For every decision regarding parenting and time-sharing of minor children, the courts are charged with acting in the best interests of the child. When parties seek to modify a parenting plan or a time-sharing schedule, Florida law adds an additional burden.
When seeking such a modification, the party requesting the change must show that there is a “substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances.” Without this, the courts will not consider a change in the parenting plan or the time-sharing schedule.
Modification of Child Custody: What the Courts Consider
When evaluating a request for a change in parental responsibility or time-sharing, the best interests of the child are the paramount consideration. Any and all factors that affect the welfare and the interests of the child, as well as the particular circumstances of the family, are considered. Some of these factors include:
- The ability of each parent to encourage and foster a close and ongoing parent – child relationship
- The ability of each parent to honor the time sharing schedule and be reasonable when changes to the schedule are necessary
- Each parent’s ability to consider and act upon the needs of the child, as opposed to their own needs and desires
- The length of time the child has lived in an environment that is stable and satisfactory, along with the desirability of maintaining continuity for the child
- Reasonable preferences of a child who is sufficiently able to express a preference based on their intelligence, understanding, and experience
- Each parent’s knowledge of the child’s situation relating to health, school, daily activities, friends, and favorite things
- The ability of each parent to maintain a consistent routine for the child in their daily schedule for things such as homework, bedtime, and meals
- Each parent’s ability to maintain a substance abuse free home
- The developmental stages of the child, the needs of the child, and the demonstrated capacity of each parent to meet the developmental needs of the child
- Any other factor the court deems relevant in determining the specific parenting plan for each individual child.
This is only a partial list of the factors the court considers when evaluating the best interests of the child. Additionally, because the law permits the courts to consider other factors, each individual case must be evaluated on – and stand on – its own merits.
If You Think a Modification of Child Custody Might Be Right for Your Family
If you’re interested in modifying parental responsibility or time-sharing, which is also known as child custody, contact the law office of Eric C. Cheshire today. We have 30 years of experience handling family law cases, and can work with you to determine whether a child custody modification is right for you and your family. Every case is different. Contact our office at (561) 295-3693 to schedule a consultation.