child’s preference in custody

Generally, Florida family law favors joint custody of children. The policy behind the law is to allow both parents to share the rights, responsibilities, and joys of raising children. However, in some cases joint custody will not be in the best interests of a child. Additionally, a child’s preference in custody cases can be a factor deciding the outcome. In these instances, it is important to hire an experienced child custody attorney in Tampa to advocate for you and your child’s rights. Child custody disputes can be very stressful, these matters are extremely important and the outcome will have a long-lasting effects.

Generally, a Florida family law court will grant shared parental responsibility (joint custody) unless the court determines that it will be detrimental to the child’s interests.  Florida courts have even gone as far as placing an obligation on parents to encourage a positive relationship between the child and other parent. See Schutz v. Schutz. When ruling on a child’s preference in custody, the judge will base their decision on the best interests of the child. The court will consider many factors when trying to determine what is in the best interests of the child. Some of the common factors considered are:

  • The child’s preference in custody
  • Mental and physical health of both parents
  • Any prior domestic violence allegations or charges
  • Relationship the child has with each parent
  • The parent’s ability to provide a stable living situation for the child
  • The geographic location of each parent
  • The parent’s work schedules

Can a Child’s Preference in Custody be Explained by the Child?

Under Florida family law, minor children may not attend a child custody hearing without prior court approval. See Florida Family Law Rule of Procedures 12.407. The parent requesting a child’s testimony must first schedule a court hearing on the request. At the hearing, the judge will consider all relevant factors when ruling on the request. If granted, the judge may allow the minor to testify about the child’s preference in custody.

If the court does allow the child to testify as a witness about the child’s preference in custody, it will typically be an in-camera examination. An in-camera examination will typically take place in the judge’s office without the parents present. In-camera examinations are private, the public will not be allowed to attend. However, a court reporter will be permitted to attend the examination. The court reporter will transcribe the examination and make the record available for use at a future court hearing. If the judge refuses to allow a court reporter to be present, it may be grounds for an appeal. See Hickey v. Burlinson.

Custody Modification Cases

The testimony of a minor regarding the child’s preference in custody may be permitted in both original child custody cases and child custody modifications. A child custody order or parenting plan can be modified if there has been a substantial, unanticipated change in circumstances and the proposed change is in the child’s best interest. For more information on how to modify an existing Florida child custody order contact a Tampa child custody lawyer for assistance.

Tampa Child Custody Law Firm

If you are in the middle of a child custody dispute contact Florida Law Advisers for help. When you work with a Tampa child custody attorney at Florida Law Advisers you can count on the support you deserve, as well as strong advocacy of your rights in these important matters. We understand how important child custody disputes are and our professional team is 100% committed to resolving your case in a stress free and efficient manner.  Call us today at 800 990 7763, we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get full custody?
Can I move out of state with my child?
What is a parenting plan?
At what age do children get to decide which parent to live with?
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