Can a child choose which parent to live with?

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2024 | Family law

In Florida, parents often find themselves wondering about the legalities of child custody.

One common question that arises is whether a child can choose which parent to live with.

Legal considerations

Florida family law emphasizes the best interests of the child when determining custody arrangements. While there is no specific age at which a child can decide, the court may consider the child’s preference, especially if they are mature enough to express a reasonable choice.

The age factor

As a general rule, children under the age of 18 are minors. While the court may take a child’s preference into account, the judge will also evaluate other aspects, such as the child’s relationship with each parent, the parents’ mental and physical health, and the ability of each parent to provide a stable and loving environment.

Understanding the court’s role

It is important to note that the ultimate decision rests with the court. Even if a child expresses a preference, the judge will weigh all relevant factors to make a determination that aligns with the child’s best interests.

Parenting plans and mediation

To facilitate a smoother process, Florida encourages parents to create a parenting plan that outlines custody arrangements, visitation schedules and parental responsibilities. Mediation is also commonly used to resolve disputes and reach agreements outside the courtroom.

In 2023, 18,140 children lived with one parent only. The question of whether a child can choose which parent to live with is not a straightforward one. While the court may consider the child’s preference, it is just one factor among many.