In My Florida Divorce, Can My Children Tell the Court Their Preference?

Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney
Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.

273159_welding_4.jpgDivorce impacts families from the parents to children and often children want to have a say in where they live. Florida recognizes that children need to be considered in a divorce and has established that a time-sharing and parenting plan should be established for the benefit of the children by taking into consideration the school and extracurricular activities of the kids. In addition, the time-sharing plan should provide time for each parent to develop a parent-child relationship though they may not live in the same home on a daily basis.

However, often I have clients ask if their child can tell the judge where the child prefers to live the majority of the time. In Florida, child testimony is allowed if proper leave of court is requested and the Judge finds that the child is an age (generally over 11), maturity and understanding of the proceedings to provide proper testimony. The court must also determine if the child’s testimony will be detrimental to the child’s mental health and whether the child can testify in front of all parties or only in front of the judge. In Jacksonville, Florida typically if there is a dispute as to which parent will have majority time-sharing, the court will require a social investigation and during that investigation, generally conducted by a psychologist, the children will be interviewed.

If you have a divorce where child time-sharing is an issue, you should speak with an lawyer to find out your rights and options.