The awarding of child custody is of prime concern to parents going through divorce. In Florida, the custody of your child is determined by seven simple words: “best interest and welfare of the child.” While it is the parents who initiated the divorce, from the court’s point of view, it is often the rights of the child that dictates child custody determinations. What if you are the parent who is better suited to support the child financially? Does this give you an advantage in obtaining residential custody of the child or children? In Florida, the fact a child would be more financially secure with one parent as opposed to the other parent is not a controlling factor in determining custody rights.
It’s not hard to consider a situation where spouses are going through divorce, they have children, but one parent makes substantially more money than the other. Take, for example a situation where the father is an executive of a corporation with an annual salary in excess of $250,000.00, and the mother is a homemaker who works really hard but does not earn her own income. In an economically driven society, some tend to think that the more money you make, the better you will be able to provide for the best interests and welfare of your children.
The truth is, even though one parent may bring home more money than the other, in most cases, both parents are still able to provide for a child’s reasonable needs. And although money is important in raising a child, especially in recent years, the courts also look to a parent’s ability to provide for a child’s personal, emotional, and social welfare as well as providing for a child’s material welfare.
If you are a parent going through a divorce, but know you make less money than your spouse, there are other important factors to consider in the issue of determining custody. Rather than spending time worrying about your financial situation, spend time detailing the factors the court will consider, such as: (1) character and moral conduct; (2) mental health; (3) the proposed home environment for the child; (4) character of others living in the proposed home of the child; (5) ability to maintain continuity in the child’s home; (6) parent’s work schedule; (7) and the effects, if any, that an interracial marriage may have on the child. And while no single factor alone is indicative of how the court will rule, it’s important to look at all of them and plan accordingly. Together, these factors comprise the analysis by which a court will determine what is in the best interest of the child when deciding the issue of residential custody.
In such cases where there is a significant disparity of income between one parent and the other the court will often mitigate that difference with awards of child support and alimony.
Source: Bradley H. Trushin, Esq., Florida Family Law Blog