Divorce with children is infinitely more complex than a divorce without children. So many factors come into play regarding child custody, visitation and child support when a divorce is being settled. In cases in which the divorce is contentious, these issues may become even more heated.
Florida laws regarding child custody are complex and multifaceted. If you are facing a divorce in Florida in which your former spouse is fighting for custody of your children, it can be helpful to understand some of the laws regarding child custody in Florida.
When children can choose which parent to live with
Many people believe that once a child hits a certain age, the courts in Florida will let the child choose which parent he or she wishes to live with. When children reach an age the court considers more mature, the court may listen to their preferences regarding which parent they wish to live with, but often judges do not bring children into court to express their wishes. Family law judges take many other factors into consideration. Until a child is a legal adult at age 18, he or she cannot automatically choose which parent to live with.
Cases in which one parent wishes to relocate can also be challenging. This situation, however, often comes into play when custody has already been granted.
Other factors to consider
Family law judges look at a multitude of factors when making decisions in child custody cases. These can vary widely, but generally speaking, family law judges will ensure they are taking the child or children's best interests into account in making their decision. Regardless of how much hostility you feel towards your former spouse, a judge is going to look at the facts of the case. One counselor who works with families in mediation over child custody reminds clients that in the absence of physical or sexual abuse situations, no child wants to be estranged from a parent.
If you are fighting a legal battle in which your child is expressing the preference to live with you, you should consult with a family law attorney. A lawyer with experience in family law can assist you in understanding how child custody law operates in Florida and how it applies to your particular case.