Can A Child Choose Which Parent Gets Custody In Florida?

Can a Child Choose Which Parent Gets Custody in Florida?Divorce is hard under any circumstance, but when there are shared minor children involved, the process can be far more complicated, both procedurally and emotionally. One of the biggest questions that people generally have on their mind entering a divorce is how it will affect custody of their children. It can be extremely frustrating and stressful feeling like you could potentially lose access to children that you helped create. In this post we will explore how custody decisions are actually made in Florida and whether your child’s opinion will give weight to the outcome.

Does a Judge Have to Determine Custody?

A common misconception when it comes to divorce is that the fate of you and your children lies squarely and entirely in the hands of a judge. However, the reality is that a judge will only have to make custody determinations if you and your co-parent are unable to do so on your own. Co-parents have the option to cooperate or negotiate their own custody terms. They can utilize the help of lawyers, mediators, arbitrators, and even group family therapists to arrive at a decision that is mutually agreeable. If this is the case, their lawyers will draft the custody terms that they have arrived at and submit them to the court. Provided the judge agrees that the terms serve the shared child’s best interest then the judge will approve the parents’ custody agreement without them having to step foot in a courtroom. On the other hand, in the understandable event that they are unable to reach an agreement, they will each present a custody proposal in court and the judge will make a determination based on what they feel represents the child’s best interest.

Our family law attorneys are focused on efficiently and effectively preparing clients for the most difficult circumstances. The attorneys at HAWM law have experience dealing with an array of family law matters and can prepare the necessary and often unique strategy and tools that your family may require.

How is the Child’s Best Interest Determined?

As you can imagine, it is a difficult task to determine what is in the best interest of the child. Each parent certainly has their idea of what is best for the child, but the child may have their own thoughts, as well. The judge has the right and ability to weigh a number of factors in determining which custody agreement would best represent their interests. One of the factors that a judge may choose to consider is the child’s preference. The judge does not have to consider the child’s preference, and if they do choose to consider the child’s preference, they must also determine that the child is mature enough to hold an intelligent opinion on the matter. The amount of weight that the judge gives the child’s preference may also vary depending on the child’s rationale for preferring residence with one parent over the other.

Talk to a Florida Custody Attorney

If you are going through a divorce in Florida, it is important to have an experienced attorney to represent your rights and advocate for an outcome that is in the best interest of both you and your child. Contact the Florida custody attorneys at HAWM Law today to schedule a consultation.

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