When parents go through a divorce, they must also decide what is best in terms of custody for their child. Although the state of Florida encourages parents to come to an agreement on their own, the court will decide if the parents are unable to do so.
According to the Florida Legislature, the court will either establish sole parental responsibility or shared parental responsibility. This determines who makes the major decisions regarding the care and wellbeing of the child. Although shared responsibility is usually the preferable choice, there are numerous factors to consider.
When making this decision, the judge takes into consideration what would be in the best interest of the child. If the parents are deciding who gets custody, they should put aside their own wants and consider the situation that is more conducive to the child’s welfare and happiness.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway outlines the factors involved with determining the child’s best interest and, subsequently, custody decisions. Some major factors include the ability of each parent to provide basic needs such as shelter, education, clothing, food and healthcare; the age and needs of the child; the health of each parent and evidence of violence or abuse.
A court will also consider the type of relationship the child has with parents, siblings and other family members. For many children, especially younger ones, maintaining a normal routine is important, so one consideration is the current living situation. In Florida, the courts also consider the wishes of the child if the child is older and mature enough to understand the circumstances.