Custody is often a difficult and emotional issue in divorce and paternity cases. In almost all cases, a decision has to be made as to where the minor child will live, where the minor child will attend school, and whom the minor child will live with. Sometimes the parties are able to work together and come to an agreement regarding these issues; however, when they are not able to make the decision, the court must make the final decision.
Florida court no longer use the term “custody” as it relates to minor children. Florida courts utilize the term time-sharing and decision making for issues relating to minor children in divorce and paternity cases. In order to make a ruling related to time-sharing and decision making the court’s uses the “best interests of the child” factors and evaluates each factor affecting the welfare and interests of the particular minor child and the circumstances of the family. These factors are prescribed by Florida Statute 61.13 (for an analysis of the factors you should consult an attorney).
It is important for parties to understand that these factors are a guideline to assist the court in making a ruling on time-sharing and decision making authority; however, Judges are not restricted to just the listed factors, they actually have wide discretion and can review other relevant information to look for the best interest of the child. Domestic court is a court of equity (fairness) not a court of law, this means the judges with good reason may evaluate other factors in making their decision about time-sharing and decision making for the benefit of the minor children.
For more information regarding custody and your family law case, you can contact the law office of Schwam-Wilcox & Associates.