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What factors will be considered during a child custody hearing?

Not every child custody dispute will require the parties to go to court. In some cases, Florida parents may be able to work out custody schedules that both serve their expectations and meet their childrens' needs. However, when parents cannot find common ground regarding how they will share their kids, then they may need to turn to the courts for help.

In Florida, a court will evaluate a number of factors to determine how to best serve the interests of the child who will be subject to the applicable custody order. The best interests of a child are subjective, meaning that what may be best for one child may not be for another. Courts take this evaluation very seriously and often request the input of the children.

Aside from the wishes of the child, a court will evaluate which parent is best suited to be the primary caregiver to the child. This assessment will consider the child's emotional and physical needs, as well as the capacities of the parents to provide the needed support. Courts hope to provide children with stable homes in the wake of divorce and, therefore, will analyze just how much each parent is able to give.

Another factor that may influence how custody is determined is whether a parent will help support the other parent's relationship with the child. A parent who will deny the other parent opportunities for visitation and time with the child may not be awarded a primary role in the child's custody.

The goal of a child custody order is to give a child a plan that will allow them to experience stability following the separation of their parents. As every divorce and separation is different, different families may experience different custody outcomes. Those readers who have concerns about this legal topic are encouraged to speak with their family law attorneys for case-specific guidance.

Source: FindLaw, "Florida Child Custody Laws," accessed November 21, 2016

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