The Florida courts are always looking to take care of children. In the Florida statutes, there are two enumerated lists of factors or “tests” that the courts implement in order to be sure that the children of Florida (who have no legal voice) are being cared for when it appears that the parent(s) are not able to put the children first.
In a Dissolution of Marriage (divorce) or a Paternity action, the court looks at Florida statute 61.13(3)a-t to evaluate the factors enumerated in order to determine what time-sharing the child(ren) should have with their parents. Each factor is weighed independently by the Judge, and if a Guardian Ad Litem is appointed, that person will usually review the factors and add his/her recommendation in a report for the Judge to review and take into consideration when making a ruling on the “custody” or time-sharing portion of the case.
In a Dependency case, the court looks at Florida Statute 39.310 (1-11) to evaluate the factors enumerated in order to make a determination regarding the manifest best interest for the children to ensure terminating the rights of the legal parents of the minor child or children is what is best. In a Dependency action when there is a Petition for Termination of Rights, there is always a Guardian Ad Litem appointed to evaluate the factors and to testify to his/her reasons behind the recommendations based on the factors since termination of parental rights is so very serious.
In order to prepare for your case, whether it is under chapter 39 (dependency) or chapter 61 (Dissolution and Paternity), you should review the factors with your attorney and compile evidence and witnesses. This will assist you in proving your case and help the Judge see what YOU think would be best for your child(ren).
For assistance with preparing your case, you can contact the law office of Schwam-Wilcox & Associates and meet with an attorney. We can explain and assist you with navigating through chapter 39 or chapter 61 in the Florida Statutes to be sure your children are protected.