Melbourne Family Attorney Discusses: Can My Children Decide Where They Live?

Family Law in FloridaThere is no doubt that any parent has serious concerns about what will happen to their children during the process of a divorce. This is frequently one of the most contested aspects of any divorce because it brings up a lot of emotional issues and concerns about parents losing access or rights to their children.

It is important in this situation to understand how the courts interpret child custody and time sharing with parents. In certain situations, the judge may listen to input from the children so long as they are deemed old enough to provide this kind of input reasonably.

Discretion in Family Law Cases

The judges in any time sharing case in Florida determining what will happen to children after a divorce have to consider the best interests of the child. This means taking into account numerous different factors and figuring out what will be best for the children now and well into the future.

Of course, visitation and time sharing options can be modified later on down the road, but many parents have a vested interest in getting things clear and fair the first time around.

This can help to make things as stable as possible for the children who are already going through enough changes as a result of a divorce. With any custody dispute involving young children, either a court or parents will decide where they live.

However, as children get older they may have a preference to live with one or another parent. Most states including Florida will consider a child’s preference when determining parenting time situations. The judge will evaluate numerous factors in making a child custody decision and putting together a time sharing schedule for parents in Florida. This includes:

  • The moral fitness of the parents.
  • The child’s community, school and home history.
  • Any evidence of drug use or violence.
  • Each parent’s willingness to cooperate regarding their child’s activities and issues.
  • Each parent’s commitment to honor the current time sharing schedule.
  • Each parent’s ability to provide consistency and a routine for the child.

When Will Courts Allow a Child’s Preference to Enter the Equation?

In Florida, there is no certain age when a court is required to consider a child’s thoughts, however, will maintain in discretion to determine when the child is old and intelligent enough to make such a choice.

Florida law does not stipulate one exact age when a child’s preference has influence on living arrangements and determines this based on the individual maturity of the child.

Children of even the same age can have different perspectives and ability to render such a decision so this is why it is so important to have an experienced Florida family lawyer working for you.

Judges have a tremendous amount of discretion in these cases and understanding the role that you play as parent and how the outcome may affect the rest of your life is important.

Having the right divorce lawyer from the outset can help you determine the best strategy for receiving a time sharing schedule that honors your rights and responsibilities as a parent.

The judge makes an independent decision for each and every child. For example, a judge cannot assign custody of one child that has been deemed to be too young to make a fair opinion simply because the older siblings have already expressed their desire to live with that parent.

The court may even award custody to someone other than a biological parent based on the child’s best interests. Neither attorneys nor parents can force a child in Florida to testify as a court witness.

Courts are careful to keep minor children from getting too involved in family law litigation as this can be a scarring and overwhelming experience.

Get Help from Divorce Attorney at Florida Today

Do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced Florida divorce lawyer if you find yourself in the situation of needing further information. The judge may choose to speak to the child privately in his or her chambers to get a better sense of their individual needs and then a court reporter may be present to keep track of the records and statements made by a child in this situation.

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