When a child chooses to live with the noncustodial parent
When Florida parents are granted primary physical custody as part of a divorce, there are cases where their children may subsequently express their desire to live with the other parent. Courts will sometimes take those wishes into consideration when resolving custody disputes, which can be emotionally challenging for the parent who previously had primary custody.
It is important to note that the court will not blindly act on the children’s wishes. Although judges may certainly take the wishes into initial consideration, they will have to determine if the children are even mature enough to make that type of decision. Ultimately, the court will make the decisionbased on the best interests of the children.
If a child expresses the wish to live with a specific parent, the court may potentially conduct a best interests analysis. This is to prevent the court from granting custody to a parent that the child wants to live with specifically because that parent is more lenient. Additionally, the court must also determine that the noncustodial parent did not influence the child’s wishes. In fact, if the noncustodial parent offers any incentives to live with them, it could be considered custodial interference and the court may determine it is in the child’s best interests to continue living with the custodial parent.
While the child’s wish is not the only factor the court takes into consideration when resolving a custody dispute, it can potentially be the deciding one. If custodial parents believes that the noncustodial parent is providing incentives so that the child will express the wish to live with them, they should contact a family law attorney. The attorney may provide the court with evidence showing that the other parent is attempting to manipulate the child.