Can My Child Decide Who Gets Custody In Florida?
A divorce can have very real effects on a child in Florida, and perhaps the most notable psychological issues are caused by lack of stability. Suddenly, children have the rugs pulled out from under them, their entire lives turned upside down. When faced with these potential issues, it makes sense to give children a sense of control and agency whenever possible. When children have the right to choose how divorces in their families turn out, this can help mitigate some of the psychological effects. But can children really decide who gets custody in Florida?
Can Children Express an Opinion?
While other states have specific guidelines that lay out exactly when a child can express a preference in a custody battle, Florida has no such rules. Instead, the court uses its discretion to assess each child’s decision-making ability and maturity on a case-by-case basis. Children that are extremely young are unlikely to have a chance to express their opinion. This is because courts understand that these children are not yet mature enough to understand the long-term consequences of their differences.
Some say that the “unwritten rule” is that judges will consider the opinions of children aged 12 or higher. That being said, there are notable exceptions to this “unwritten rule” that we can clearly see in past custody cases. For example, a 10-year-old child from one family may be seen as more mentally-mature than a 12-year-old from a different family. This is the benefit of leaving the guidelines somewhat vague, as it allows judges to accommodate intelligent, mature children even if they are relatively young.
Even though a child may express an opinion, there is no guarantee that a judge will actually consider this to be a notable factor in their final decision. The only possible outcome is that the court will listen and consider the words of a child.
There Are Many Other Factors to Consider
You should also know that a child’s preference is not the only factor that the family court will consider when determining custody. There are many others that may hold greater sway over a judge’s final decision – perhaps most notably incidents of family violence, neglect, or substance abuse. A child may become very attached to an abusive parent, but that doesn’t mean they should stay with them – even if they prefer to do so.
Where Can I Find a Qualified Child Custody Attorney in Florida?
If you’ve been searching for a qualified, experienced Orlando child custody attorney, look no further than Steve Marsee, P.A. Over the years, we have assisted numerous divorcing parents with various issues – including a child’s right to choose. Your child’s preference is just one factor that a family court in Florida may consider, and there are many others that may have an effect on the outcome of your custody battle. Book a consultation today, and we can discuss all of the various factors before developing a targeted, effective action plan.