Do you have children under the age of 18? If you answered, “yes,” then you are well aware of the fact that your children have opinions. They may not have stepped out into the world on their own, but they certainly have their own ideas about everything, including divorce.
Where custody and visitation is concerned, does your child have a say? The answer is “Yes, but it depends on the circumstances.” Courts determine custody using the factors enumerated under Florida Statute 61.13, which include the wishes of the child.
The exact language states that the court will consider “the reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding and experience to express a preference.”
What does that mean? It means that the court will not only consider what the child says, but also whether the child is mature enough to formulate reasonable opinions. The court will also consider this as one factor among many when determining an arrangement that is in the child’s best interests.
Let us take out all of the legalese and explain the situation another way. As a parent, you care about what your child thinks. You are also well aware of the fact that they do not always know what it best for them. You, of all people, know that sometimes you have to override their wishes to protect them.
You may listen to your child’s opinion in one instance. In other situations, you may value their feelings but decide against them. The court knows that children, even reasonable and mature children, can’t always have their way.