Can my Child Choose His or Her Parenting Plan?
In a word, no. Your child’s parenting plan is created according to what the court deems to be in his or her best interest, and to determine this, it considers a series of factors about your child’s needs and both parents’ lifestyles. Your child’s preference is one of the factors the court may consider, but it never stands alone as the determining factor for a parenting plan.
Sometimes, determining the parenting plan that best suits a child’s needs is a complex process. When there is considerable conflict between a child’s parents, this complexity can be amplified. Before you begin the process of developing your child’s parenting plan, discuss your case and your child’s specific needs with an experienced family lawyer.
Your Child’s Preference is Not the Deciding Factor
Although the court may consider your child’s preference when determining an appropriate parenting plan for him or her, it must consider the preference alongside other factors about his or her lifestyle and needs. These factors include:
- The stability of each parent’s home;
- Both parents’ age and health;
- The child’s relationships with the parents and others in their households;
- How a specific parenting plan could disrupt the child’s current routine and how the disruption would affect him or her;
- The child’s medical, physical, psychological, and academic needs;
- Each parent’s willingness to cooperate with the court and the other parent;
- Each parent’s current role in the child’s life and ability to provide for his or her everyday needs, like homework help and managing the child’s extracurricular schedule; and
- The geographic logistics of each proposed parenting plan. This includes the amount of travel time between the parents’ homes and whether the child would have to change schools under a specific plan.
Evaluating your Child’s Parenting Plan Preference
How strongly the court considers your child’s preference when determining his or her parenting plan depends on your child’s ability to articulate a well-reasoned preference. Florida does not impose an age limit for courts to consider a child’s preference in this decision – a child of any age who can provide a well-developed opinion on his or her custody arrangement may have his or her opinion considered. When evaluating a child’s position on his or her parenting plan, the court must carefully determine that the child’s preference is truly his or her own, that the child was not coached or bribed into voicing a specific preference by a parent or another adult.
Work with an Experienced Orlando Child Custody Lawyer
When the court is developing your child’s parenting plan, he or she may express a preference and depending on the other factors at play, the court may consider it. To learn more about how Florida courts determine appropriate parenting plans and what you can expect from this process, speak with an experienced Orlando family lawyer. Contact the Law Office of Steve W. Marsee, P.A. today to set up your initial consultation in our office.