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How does a Florida court evaluate the parent-child relationship?

Over the years, Florida parents grow in their relationship with their children. From bonding when the child is an infant, to watching the child mature into their own person, the relationship between parents and children evolves over time.

At any point in this continuum, parents can become involved in a custody dispute, such as after a divorce. As discussed last week in this blog, when child custody issues arise, the court is guided by what is in the best interests of the child when making decisions affecting the children.

Part of this test involves an examination of each parent's relationship with the children in the past. For example, the court may look at the parenting tasks and responsibilities that were undertaken by each parent before the divorce.

The court may also examine what each parent has done to keep involved in the child's school and extracurricular activities. For instance, if one parent typically helps the child with homework each night, this might be a proper consideration for the court. Likewise, the parent's demonstrated ability to keep informed of the child's friends, teachers and environment is considered.

On a more fundamental level, the court considers the relationship between the parents and children. The love, guidance and values provided by each parent may be evaluated, as well as the child's preference between parents if the child is of sufficient age and maturity to make such a determination.

Ultimately, these are just some of the many factors that a court may consider in examining the child's best interests. However, these factors demonstrate how important the parent's relationship with the child is when making custody decisions.

Source: Florida Legislature, "61.13 Support of children; parenting and time-sharing; powers of court," accessed on Nov. 26, 2016

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