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Can a Child Choose Custody in Clearwater, Florida?

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In Florida, child custody and visitation issues are handled under the state’s best interests of the child statute. Family law courts will work to find a child custody or shared parenting arrangement that is best for the health, safety, social development, and overall well being of the child. This raises an important question: Can a child choose their own custody/visitation arrangement in Florida?

The answer to this question is extremely complicated. Strictly speaking, a child does not get to make their own custody decision. However, children who are of a sufficiently mature age are sometimes allowed to give input into their own custody. In fact, in some cases, Florida family law judges put considerable weight on an older child’s wishes. Here, our Clearwater child custody attorney highlights three more important things parents need to know about children choosing their own custody in Florida.

  1. Parents Seeking Custody Must Present a Comprehensive Case

No matter the specific circumstances of your custody dispute, you must be prepared to present a comprehensive legal case that fully demonstrates that you can provide the best environment for your child. Your child’s wishes will never be sufficient to win your custody case. Further, your child may not even be allowed to give input at all. It is never guaranteed that a minor will be able to impact their own case. To protect your parental rights, you should work with a skilled Clearwater family law lawyer who can help you build and present a strong custody or visitation claim. 

  1. Florida Courts Do Not Want Children to Testify

Florida family law judges do not want to put children through the stress of testifying in a custody case. While it can happen in certain circumstances, children, even older children, are not usually permitted to testify. They may be allowed to offer input to the judge directly in the judge’s chamber. though this does not always happen either. In some cases, an appointed guardian ad litem may be able to testify as to the child’s preferences. 

  1. A Child’s Wishes May Be Good Cause to Initiate a Custody Modification

If your child is a teenager and is now interested in a new custody arrangement, you may be able to use that as a basis to seek a modification of your child custody or child visitation order. Ultimately, this will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. If you find yourself in this situation, you should consult with a Clearwater, FL family law modifications attorney. Your attorney will be able to help work through the legal process and put together the evidence you need to present a strong case. 

Contact Our Clearwater Child Custody Lawyer Today

At the Law Offices of Gale H. Moore P.A., we have extensive experience representing parents in Florida. To get immediate assistance with your custody issue, please contact us today by calling 727-584-2528. With an office in Largo, we represent parents in Clearwater and throughout the surrounding communities, including in Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Seminole, and Pinellas Park.

Resource:

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0000-0099/0061/Sections/0061.13.html

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