While divorces are difficult for all involved parties, they can be especially traumatizing for any children who may involved. Typically, Florida parents are able to come to an agreement that works for both of them and any children they have and everyone begins to live with their new normal.
However, less than 5% of divorce hearings involve a court-ordered custody ruling where a third party has to determine which parent becomes the custodial parent and how visitations are arranged. It’s easy for children and even their parents to feel like the desires of the children involved are not taken into consideration when a divorce takes place.
There are some states that do not take the wishes of the children into account at all. A judge will simply make a decision based on evidence that he or she has heard and decide the future of the children.
In contrast, there are other states that allow children that have reached a certain age to make the decision for themselves as to what parent will be their primary custodian. In Florida, the child’s preference can be the deciding factor when a custody hearing is taking place. Under that law, a judge will make a decision based on evidence, but that decision will be made in conjunction with the child as long as he or she is of “sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.”
Clients who are trying to be granted custody of a child in a divorce are encouraged to work with an attorney who is familiar with family law. That attorney may then help guide the client through the steps that must be taken to be granted child custody while the child’s wishes may still be taken into consideration.