Any divorce may be difficult and stressful. Divorces involving minor children are almost always emotionally challenging. Commonly a mental health professional is an asset in navigating the difficult time. If one parent alleges that the other parent is unfit to care for the children, or if the dispute between the parents regarding the timesharing is extreme, the judge may order the intervention of a Guardian Ad Litem. A Guardian Ad Litem is commonly a psychologist or an attorney that is charged with representing the interests of the children caught in the cross fire of divorce. The Guardian Ad Litem interviews the child, parents, teachers, and other important people in the child’s life to prepare a report including their recommendations to the judge.
In the event that the parties are unable to reach an agreement regarding timesharing (visitation), the judge will make the final determination. During the trial, the judge will hear the testimony of the mother, father, the Guardian Ad Litem (if one has been appointed), and any other witness with relevant testimony. The judge will then make the final determination based on what he believes to be in "the best interest of the child." In making this determination the judge will analyze the following factors:
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between parents and children, to honor the established custody, and be reasonable when changes are required.
- The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which the responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act on the child's needs rather than the needs or desires of the parents.
- The amount of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The geographic viability of the parenting plan , with special attention to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time spent traveling to make the parenting plan . This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.
- The moral fitness of the parents.
- The mental and physical health of the parents.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court finds that the child is of sufficient intelligence, understanding and has the maturity to express preferences.
- Demonstrate knowledge, the ability and willingness of each parent to be informed of the child's circumstances, including, but not limited to, the child's friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
- Demonstrated ability and willingness of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals and bedtimes.
- The demonstrated ability of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities relating to the child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when it comes to children.
- Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action.
- Evidence that either parent to knowingly provide false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment or neglect.
- specific parenting tasks that are usually performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the start of litigation and the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child's school and extracurricular activities.
- The disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
- The ability and willingness of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
- The stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child's developmental needs.
- Any other factors relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including time-sharing scheduling.
Dana Pechersky has experience handling the above matters while helping to minimize the anxiety and emotional strains on her clients.
For Spanish, please visit us at: Custodia y Régimen de Visitas
Dana Pechersky is serving clients as a family law attorney in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, including Weston, Pembroke Pines, Plantation, Davie, Tamarac, Fort Lauderdale, Oakland Park, Lauderhill, Coconut Creek, Dania, Deerfield Beach, Everglades Parkway, Hallandale, Hollywood, Lauderdale Lakes, Pompano Beach, Miramar, Southwest Ranches, West Park, Miami Gardens, Hialeah, Coral Gables, Aventura, Miami Beach, North Miami Beach, Bal Harbour, Sunny Isles, Bay Harbor Islands, Biscayne Park, Doral, Key Biscayne, Miami Shores, Miami Lakes, Miami Springs, North Bay Village, Surfside, and Miami.