Under Florida law and its Domestic Relations Act XLIII, there is a presumption for time sharing with regard to child custody, called guardianship in Florida. Under the statute, a child never may choose whom he or she will live with.
To change custody under Florida law, you must demonstrate that there has been a change of circumstance since the last order and that the modification of custody is in the child's best interests. The statute states specifically that - "For purposes of establishing or modifying parental responsibility and creating, developing, approving, or modifying a parenting plan, including a time-sharing schedule, which governs each parent's relationship with his or her minor child and the relationship between each parent with regard to his or her minor child, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration."
Only after a thresh hold showing will a child's opinion be considered if the court deems that child to be of suitable age and maturity to express an opinion. Often, that does not occur until the child reaches the age of 12 or older.
There are now twenty factors for consideration when considering a change of custody and what is in a child's best interests. Some may or may not apply to you. They are highlighted below:
- The ability of each parent to have a close relationship with the child;
- The ability of each parent to work with the other parent;
- The ability of each parent to put the needs of the child before his or her own needs;
- How parental responsibilities will likely be divided when the divorce is finalized;
- Whether each parent will require some sort of child care during his or her time-sharing schedule;
- How long the child has lived in a stable home;
- Whether the parents live near each other and the child's school;
- How well the child is doing in school;
- How well informed each parent is of the child's scholastic and extracurricular activities;
- Whether each parent is involved in the child's school or extracurricular activities;
- The ability of each parent to provide a routine for the child;
- Whether each parent is morally fit;
- The physical and mental health of each parent;
- The preference of the child;
- Whether there has been any domestic violence or other abuse or neglect;
- Whether either parent has falsely accused the other parent of abuse;
- The responsibilities of each parent toward the child before the petition for divorce was filed;
- Whether either parent has exposed the child to alcohol or drug abuse;
- Whether each parent has shielded the child from the divorce litigation;
- The ability of each parent to meet the child's current and future developmental needs; and
- Anything else that the court believes is relevant.
To review the full text, see section 61.13(3) of the Florida Statutes.v http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=Ch0061/Sec13.HTM
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