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Determining your child's best interests

It doesn't matter what your agenda is, and it doesn't matter how you feel about the issue. When it comes to child custody lawsuits, Florida courts will always strive to make decisions that honor the best interests of your child first and foremost.

That said, it might not be entirely easy for a Florida parent -- or a Florida court for that matter -- to ascertain what the best interests of a particular child happen to be. In evaluating "best interests," courts will usually look at the following general factors:

-- If the child is able to express his or her preference, the court will consider what the child wants.

-- Cultural or religious issues.

-- A child's need for stability.

-- The custody relating to other children who may be living with or apart from the child.

-- The physical and mental capacities of both parents.

-- The ability to interact with other, extended family members, like grandparents.

-- Special needs of the child and how each parent fulfills the child's needs.

-- Other household members.

-- The sex and age of the child.

-- Whether there has ever been domestic violence issue that could affect the children.

-- Issues relating to alcohol or drug abuse, or child abuse.

If you're currently in the throes of a child custody dispute in Florida, don't give up hope. Your child is the most precious valuable you have, and very much worth fighting for. Also, a reasonable family law judge will make every effort to decide your child custody dispute in a way that's meant to be of the most benefit to your child.

Source: FindLaw, "Focusing on the best interests of the child," accessed May 12, 2017

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