Can my Child Choose His or Her Custody Arrangement?
In certain cases, yes. But your child cannot dictate his or her custody arrangement to the court. The court will determine your parenting plan based on what it finds to be in your child’s best interest. This could involve your child’s preference regarding where to live, but your child’s preference cannot be the only factor it considers.
Your Child’s Age and Maturity Determine Whether the Court Consider His or Her Preference
In some states, a child must be a certain age for the court to consider his or her custodial preference when developing a timesharing plan. This is not the case in Florida. In Florida, a child’s preference can be considered at any age as long as the court feels that the child is articulating a rational, mature decision. The court must also determine that the child is truly expressing his or her preference, and not a parent’s preference he or she was coerced into expressing. When a child is at risk of being manipulated by one or both parents, the court may assign the child an attorney or a guardian ad litem.
Other Factors Considered when Determining a Parenting Plan
The child’s preference is only one of the factors the court considers to determine a parenting plan that is in his or her best interest. Other factors considered include:
- The child’s academic and community history;
- The child’s relationship with each parent;
- Each parent’s willingness to cooperate with the court and the other parent;
- Each parent’s daily involvement with the child, such as helping with homework and handling extracurricular activities;
- Each parent’s financial capacity to provide the for the child;
- Any history of domestic violence in either parent’s household;
- How long the child has lived at his or her current residence; and
- Each parent’s ability to meet the child’s developmental needs.
The court may consider other relevant factors about a specific child or parent, such as the parent’s mental health conditions or how the presence of a new partner or other children in a parent’s household will impact the child. In nearly all cases, it is best for a child to have a consistent relationship with both parents.
What is best for one child might not be best for another. It is possible for the court to find that living primarily with one parent is ideal for one of a couple’s children, but staying with the other is the right choice for the couple’s other child.
Talk to Draper Law Office About Child Custody in Florida
Get a better sense of what to expect from your child custody proceedings by discussing your case with an experienced family lawyer. Contact Draper Law Office online or by calling 866-767-4711 today to set up your free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our firm. We have three convenient office locations to serve you: Orlando, St. Cloud, and Kissimmee.