Written by: Lenorae Atter, Attorney at Law
As a Jacksonville, Florida divorce lawyer, I handle cases dealing with primary time-sharing issues, previously known as custody battles. In representing one parent against the other, my job is not only to represent my client, but to also make certain that in doing so I am preserving what is in the best interest of the child. The best interest of the child standard is used throughout almost every state in determining issues such as custody, time-sharing, visitation, parental responsibility, and the like. When the best interest of the child is in jeopardy the courts find it their duty to protect the children from irreparable harm, both physically and mentally.
A parent who fights for custody simply because she or he does not want to pay child support or simply because she or he needs child support, are not looking out for the best interest of the child, but their own best interest. This type of divorce and custody dispute can lead parties to make poor decisions for the children and cause a rift in their relationship with the children and also with the other parent, thus making it difficult to make big decisions together for the sake of the children. Once the case is over, the judge does not have a magic wand to put all relationships back as if the battle never occurred. Typically, the child will then grow-up with parents that barely communicate and the child may or may not have a solid relationship with each parent at the end of the day.
Bringing children into your legal battle is not for the child’s benefit. The child should be protected from the divorce battle or custody battle that is ongoing with the other parent. When the court is looking to which parent is the best choice to take care of the child the majority of the time, the judge typically looks for which parent is more likely to look after the interests of the child, help to foster a good relationship with the child and the other parent, etc. A drawn out dispute that leads to false allegations and actions of emotional or physical harm to a child is not going to bode well with any judge in Florida. Therefore, keeping these things at bay as parents, and trying to resolve matters in a light most favorable to the kids is more important than the financial strain of paying child support.
More often than not, a legal battle for custody leads to an additional breakdown of communications between parent / child and parent / parent. Therefore, working with a parenting coordinator, social investigator or a family counselor during the process may be best for everyone involved. A parenting coordinator to work with parents to help design the best time-sharing plan while a social investigator can also help by meeting with everyone (including the children) to help determine what type of living situation is best for the children. If you have an issue that needs to be addressed regarding majority time-sharing or custody, then you should speak with a family law attorney in your area for more information on how to proceed.