When family law judges in Florida make a decision about your children and the time sharing schedule for each parent they use the “best interest of the child” standard that is set forth in Florida Statutes, Section 61.13. There are twenty different factors that the Florida legislature has determined the courts must review and analyze before fashioning a parenting plan and time sharing schedule for the parents. This article will address the first factor. The First factor listed in the statute is as follows:
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.
What does this mean? How does this affect my case? The judge is going to want to see demonstrated evidence and facts that you have done your best to facilitate a relationship with the children and the other parent. This might not be easy and you might not want to do this. Despite the huge emotional conflict you might be going through, you still must to do your best to facilitate and encourage a relationship with the other parent. For example, help the children create birthday or holiday gifts for the other parent. E-mail the other parent pictures of the children on frequent occasions. Allow the children to have regular and meaningful telephone contact with the other parent. Examples of behavior that show you believe the children benefit from having a meaningful relationship with BOTH parents will help the court look favorably upon you in relation to this factor.
Additionally, evidence that you are honoring the time sharing schedule and not withholding the children from the other parent is also something the court is looking for when analyzing this factor. Finally, the judge is going to want to see that you are flexible and reasonable when changes to the schedule are required. This doesn’t mean just when changes to YOUR schedule are required, but also when changes to the other parents schedule are necessary and even when changes to the children’s schedule require flexibility. It helps to be flexible and not rigidly adhere to the written time sharing schedule. This factor may seem like common sense to you, but unfortunately many individuals get caught up and blinded by the emotional side effects of going through a divorce and fail to ask themselves whether their behavior is truly in the children’s best interest or simply their own best interest. Contact your expert family law attorney for a more in depth analysis of how the facts of your case can be analyzed and applied to this factor.