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Can a child choose which parent to live with in Florida?

On Behalf of | Oct 19, 2023 | FAMILY LAW - Divorce |

Many parents wonder if a child can pick which parent they want to live with.

The answer is that Florida law does consider a child’s preference, but it is just one factor among many in making this decision.

The best interests of the child

Florida family law places the well-being and happiness of the child at the forefront of all custody decisions. It recognizes that as children grow, their opinions become increasingly important in determining their living arrangements. However, there is not a fixed age when this transition occurs. Each case requires individual evaluation.

The child’s age and maturity

As a child grows, their voice becomes more significant in custody matters. However, there’s no specific age that marks this transition. Florida courts evaluate each case individually, taking into account the child’s age, maturity, and ability to express their feelings.

The balancing factors

In addition to the child’s preference, the court evaluates various aspects. These include the physical and mental health of both parents, the quality of the child’s relationships with each parent, and the overall stability of the home environment.

The role of appointed representatives

To ensure the protection of the child’s rights and well-being, the court may appoint someone to help the child speak up. This appointed person acts as a safeguard for the child’s interests throughout the legal process.

Although the court system often hopes for collaborative parenting, the U.S. had 10.9 million one-parent families with a child in 2022. While the child’s say is important regarding where they want to live, the ultimate goal is to ensure the child’s welfare and security.