When you and your spouse decide to divorce, it is often an incredibly challenging matter for everyone involved, including your children. Children are often confused and unsure of what this means for them. Additionally, they may have difficulty handling the idea of not living with both parents, especially if they feel like they have a better relationship with one parent. As such, you may wonder whether or not the courts will consider your child’s preference when issuing a custody decision. The following blog explores these matters further and explains why it’s imperative to connect with Tampa child custody lawyers who can assist you during these times.

What Factors Influence a Custody Decision in Florida?

When a couple divorces or breaks up and they share a child, it’s necessary to understand what factors can influence how custody is determined. First and foremost, the state will prioritize the child’s best interest. Essentially, this means that ensuring the health and well-being of the child is more important than the wants and desires of the parents.

Additionally, as of July 2023, the courts begin each matter by assuming equal custody is in the child’s best interest. However, as the courts consider several factors, this can change. As such, th courts will consider the following:

  • The willingness of both parents to support a relationship between the child and their other parent
  • The age and health of each parent
  • The ability of each parent to meet the needs of the child
  • Who the child’s primary caretaker was before the divorce
  • The distance between the parent’s residences
  • Whether or not there is a history of substance abuse, neglect, or domestic violence

It’s necessary to understand that this is not a comprehensive list, and the courts can consider any additional factors they deem relevant when making a decision regarding child custody.

At What Age Will the Court Consider a Child’s Preference?

In many states, the courts will consider the child’s preference during a custody matter. These states often set a minimum age at which a child can voice their opinion. Florida, however, is not one of these states. The courts will consider the opinion of any child who is mature enough to understand the importance of their opinion. Often, the thoughts of older children, especially teenagers, are taken into consideration, as they are believed to have the emotional maturity to express their preferences.

Despite the fact that the courts do take this into consideration, this is not the most substantial factor. The courts must still prioritize the child’s best interest. As such, if a child wants to live with their mother because she lets them stay up late and skip school, the courts would not give this much weight, as this is not in the best interest of the child.

As you can see, custody is a complex matter that revolves around several considerations. That is why it’s in your best interest to connect with an experienced attorney from Tampa Law Group. Our legal team understands that child custody can be incredibly complicated and emotional, so you can trust us to represent the best interests of you and your child. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you during these challenging issues.