Moral Fitness As a Parent As Defined in 61.13
Florida Family Law is Concerned With the Moral Fitness of a Minor Child’s Parents
One could ask what business does the law have in determining what goes on in the private lives of a minor child’s parents. Florida Family Law says there are many areas of a parent’s private life that will directly affect the care and nurturing of children and thus influence the healthy development of a child both physically and mentally. Thus the law does have a right to be concerned with moral fitness of a child’s parents.
Moral fitness as described in Florida Statute 61.13 covers several area of parental moral fitness as determined by Florida’s standard for minor children “In the best interest of the child”. If a judge has received adequate proof there are moral fitness concerns regarding either parent, his or her judgment outcome will be influenced. These outcomes will influence the parenting plan details required in all minor child cases and can include: number of overnights, place of visitations, and involvement of parent in minor child’s activities. Offending parents may also be ordered to take state approved parenting classes, pay court costs of non offending parent, and in extreme cases, lose the right to parental sharing as sole custody can be awarded to the non offending parent or sometimes even to a court approved third party such as a grandparent.
While moral fitness does not have an exact legal definition, it presumably covers a person’s behavior regarding violence (particularly a conviction of domestic violence), dishonesty, substance abuse, conviction of sexual crimes, and child abuse. The result of the lack of moral fitness must have a direct impact on the minor child as well as ample, real evidence, (not assumptions) that there is a connection between the parent’s conduct and the significant harm it is causing the minor child.
The state of Florida has statutes, which give guidelines a judge must follow when determining what is in the best interests of a minor child. Specifically, the area of moral fitness is part of statute 61.l3 which lists 20 guidelines a judge considers when figuring out the final outcome for a minor child’s future following a dissolution of marriage (divorce) or child support case. Of the 20 guidelines 6 have reference to moral fitness. These can be paraphrased as:
- (c) Show each parent knows how and is willing to continue considering the best interests of the child before considering their own wants and needs.
- (d) How much time has the child been in a satisfactory, stable environment and the indication this positive situation will continue
- (f) The moral behavior of each parent, that is behavior exhibiting respectable and decent behavior at home and in the community
- (m) Significant evidence of child abuse, child neglect, child abandonment, domestic or sexual violence, resulting from prior or pending action
- (n) Proof either party has lied or given false information regarding an action in regards to any issue in above guideline (m).
- (q) Show how a parent will keep the environment of a child free from substance abuse.
If you are planning to be involved in dissolution of marriage or child support case and are concerned in any way that a judge could consider you morally unfit, be absolutely sure to discuss this possibility with an experienced Family Law attorney. For persons living in Florida’s Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange, or Hillsborough county or in Washington DC, attorney Grant Gisondo is ready to answer your questions and help you get a fair outcome. Call his office at (561) 530-4568 to make an appointment for an initial, free, in-office consultation. He will meet with you personally Monday through Friday 9 to 5 and for new clients attorney Gisondo is available from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays.