When parents divorce, the family dynamics can get complicated — even ugly. Depending on the circumstances of your divorce, you may have a child who decides that they don’t want to live with you. They might demand that their other parent get custody.
Do they have that right? Well, not exactly. Here’s what you need to know.
There’s no magic age at which point the court will let a child choose
Some states allow children of a certain age (usually, teenagers) to have more of a say in their custodial situation when their parents divorce. Florida does not. Until a child’s 18th birthday rolls around, the court calls the shots.
That does not mean, however, that your child’s preferences will necessarily go unnoticed by the judge when there’s a custody dispute.
Like other states, Florida uses a number of factors to determine what’s in the child’s best interests when it comes to custody and visitation. By law, the judge must consider “the reasonable preferences of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding and experience to express a preference.”
Obviously, that’s a somewhat subjective call — so one judge may decide to hear out a 12-year-old’s request, while another may not want to hear from anybody under 15 years of age. Plus, the facts of the case will have a big impact on the judge’s decision. Your child’s sentiments are only part of the issues that must be weighed.
You can take more control of the situation
Child custody doesn’t have to be left to the court’s judgment. If you and your spouse are willing to work together for the benefit of your children, you can craft a more flexible custody and visitation plan than the court might otherwise design.
Don’t let child custody issues get you down. Talk to an experienced legal advocate about what you can do to put the whole situation to rest.