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.