Can My Child Choose Who To Live With In A Florida Divorce?
If you are considering divorce, one of the most anxiety-inducing questions you can land upon is what will happen to your children. If you were the child of divorce, this may be a particularly triggering topic for you. While children cannot be entirely protected by the effects of divorce, Florida’s child custody system is designed with their best interest in mind. In this article, we’ll provide some insight into how custody decisions are made in Florida and how your child’s opinion or preference can weigh in that process. If you have questions specific to your case, you are welcome to contact the experienced Florida family law attorneys at Greater Orlando Family Law to schedule a free consultation.
How is Custody Determined in Florida?
When most people think of child custody determinations, they probably envision a stressful court proceeding. However, not all child custody decisions require extensive involvement by the court. In fact, a judge will only ever make a custody decision if the parents are unable to arrive at a suitable solution on their own. Parents retain the most control over the outcome if they are able to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution together. In order to do so, many parents employ lawyers, or try mediation, arbitration, or even group therapy, to arrive at an amicable arrangement without the involvement of the court. In this situation, once the parents have arrived at an agreement their lawyers will draft it and submit it to the court. The judge will then approve it providing it serves the child’s best interests. Of course, it is entirely understandable that in many situations divorcing parents will not be able to reach a mutual agreement on such a hot-button issue. In these situations, they will both present their best argument for custody to the court and the judge will consider each of their proposals in addition to other factors and evidence.
Can My Child Choose Who Has Primary Custody in Florida?
If it falls to the judge to make a decision about custody, they will consider a number of factors, including which parent can provide the most stable and healthy environment for the child. Another factor that the judge can choose to consider is the preference of the child. In order to give weight to the child’s preference, the judge must determine that the child is mature enough to make an informed and educated decision on the matter. The judge can give more or less weight to the child’s preference depending on the child’s reasoning. For instance, the judge may give heavy weight to a child’s desire to live with his mother because she lives close to school and helps him with his homework, but may not give weight to a child’s desire to live with his father because he never gets in trouble there or has better desserts.
Contact Greater Orlando Family Law
If you are going through a divorce in Florida, it’s important to have an experienced Orlando family lawyer on your side to ensure that your and your children’s rights and interests are protected and that you receive an equitable outcome. Contact Greater Orlando Family Law today and schedule your free consultation.