Can a Child Choose With Which Parent to Live?
People often ask whether or not their child can choose which parent with which they want to live. Some people believe there is a specific age at which a child can choose. Determining custody in divorce cases is often messy and emotionally charged. There are many factors that come into play when the courts determine with whom the child will live. Child preference may come into play, but often it will not be the only factor in the court’s final decision. In this post, we will explore child preference in determining custody and how it may come into play.
Is There an Age at Which a Child Can Choose?
The simple answer is no. There is no point in a child’s life at which he or she has a legal right to choose a primary parent. However, the court may consider a child’s preference before making a final decision.
The Child’s Best Interest
Florida courts attempt to make custody decisions based on what they believe is in the child’s best interest. This will bring into question many different factors. Some of these include the financial standing of each parent, criminal histories, and more. Each case is different. Different factors will impact individual cases differently. Likewise, each child is different, and the court may view the preference of one child in a different light compared to another.
If the child expresses a preference for one parent over another, the courts may consider it. The courts are more likely to use the child’s will as a factor if the child is older and more mature. If the child is deemed mature enough to make the decision, this could be persuasive to the court. You may need to utilize an experienced family law attorney if this is the case. You should also seek testimonies from other figures in the child’s life. These could be doctors, dentists, teachers, or coaches.
What if a Decision Has Already Been Made?
In some cases, a decision may be made in the original divorce decree. Following the original decree, either party may wish to seek changes to the arrangement. Whichever party initiates the modification will need to demonstrate changes in circumstances. These changes could be different for each case.
Modifications to timesharing and custody could lead to changes in other aspects of the divorce decree. For example, if a father takes over full custody of a child, he may stop paying child support to the mother. Your attorney and the courts will help you figure out how these changes will take place.
Call a Florida Child Custody Attorney
Divorce cases can get messy, especially when they involve minor children. Each parent may do everything in their power to gain custody of the child. Each case is different. Some are more amicable than others. However, regardless of your situation, you should make sure you have proper legal representation. These cases can be difficult for everyone involved. The Florida lawyers at the office of Edward J. Jennings, P.A. have the experience to help you with your case. Contact our firm today to find out more about how we can help.