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Will the court consider my child's opinion about custody?

Divorce proceedings have many complexities without the involvement of children but, when they are added to the situation, this further adds to the stress. Complicating matters more are situations when children are mature enough to formulate an opinion, and the court can consider their choice between living with either mom or dad.

The issue with this, though, is that just because the child is old enough to make this decision doesn't mean that they know what's best for them. The preference of a child in custody does hold some merit in some divorce proceedings, but these situations are handled on a case-by-case basis. Let's look at why.

Does your child genuinely need to be involved?

Think about whether your child genuinely needs involvement in your divorce proceedings. Will their testimony offer insight to the judge regarding their understanding as to the circumstances in your home, or how child custody arrangements affect them?

If your child is mature enough to express their desires, and circumstances are proving difficult to them, it may be a good idea to allow them to share a testimony. However, think twice about doing so if you're goal is to embarrass your ex-spouse or get revenge against them.

What are the long-term effects on your child?

Your child's testimony could potentially have long-term effects on them, and this must be a consideration. Most children already experience a significant amount of trauma from divorce. This reality applies in particular when they're put in the middle of bitter custody battles.

What happens when they're forced to pick sides? Remember that it's your responsibility to ensure your child maintains a healthy relationship with your ex-spouse following your divorce. Their testimony could have an adverse impact on that.

Understand Florida state law

Under Florida Statute 61.13(3), it states, "For purposes of establishing or modifying parental responsibility and creating, developing, approving, or modifying a parenting plan, including a time-sharing schedule, which governs each parent's relationship with his or her minor child and the relationship between each parent with regard to his or her minor child, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration."

The statute further goes on in that section to subsection (i) stating, "The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference."

Working with an experienced attorney

It is best to consult with an attorney in Florida to have a firm understanding of this issue. When you work with an experienced divorce lawyer, he or she will help you glean a better understanding of the Florida statutes above and how courts may respond to particular circumstances. That way, you will have sufficient information to decide whether involving your child is the best idea in your case.