As your life continues after your divorce, old relationship dynamics may change while new relationships begin to form. If you are a parent, your relationship dynamics, with your child, with your former partner and with third parties, will always have an effect on your child and the court will take these into account when determining a child’s best interest and determining a parenting plan. Your Orlando Child Custody Attorney will discuss with you the factors used by the court and how your relationships will be weighed in relation to your child’s best interest.
Child custody involves the formulation of a detailed parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child. When determining the best interests of the child, the court must take into consideration a variety of factors. Some of these factors include the ability to maintain a healthy and ongoing relationship with your former partner. The court specifically will look to the “demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required” and “the demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.” 61.13 With the statutory presumption of shared custody in Florida, the court puts a great deal of focus on the co-parenting relationship. Therefore, if evidence is presented that you are unable to support a relationship between your child and former partner, or you are unable to communicate with your former partner regarding child care or schedule changes the court will take this into account in an initial determination as well as any subsequent modification proceedings. The court has awarded sole custody in situations where parents intentionally neglected to encourage a relationship between their co-parent and the child. Therefore, it is important to maintain a positive relationship with your former partner, and if you are having difficulties with communication, discuss options with your Orlando Divorce Attorney that you may need to implement to facilitate a more positive relationship.
The court may also take into consideration relationships with third parties, when addressing a parenting plan. Therefore, if you have entered a new romantic relationship, the court will likely consider a few different elements to ensure the child’s needs and interest are still being met in this new dynamic. If you and your new partner are cohabitating, it is important to ensure the home is still a stable environment. The court values the child being in “a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity,” after such a disruptive process such as a divorce, stability is crucial. 61.13 Therefore, if you are entering a new relationship and cohabitating with that individual, the court may see this and envision the possible instability a new relationship may bring. Further, if your former partner brings evidence of your new partner’s criminal history and negative relationship with the child the court may limit contact if such contact with the child is found to be dangerous or detrimental. If you have concerns about your new relationship affecting your child custody determination, discuss this with your Orlando Divorce Attorney and they will be able to expand upon your options.
Most notably, the court may take into account “any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.” Therefore, many relationships in your life that you find irrelevant to your parenting, may be brought to the forefront by your former partner in a nasty custody battle. It is important to have an experienced Orlando Child Custody Attorney on your side to argue for your rights and protection of your child.
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