As you start to go through the motions of your divorce, one thing you’ll have to come up with is a child custody plan. Many people worry that their children’s wishes may overshadow what they think is the right thing to do, but you shouldn’t worry. As a parent, your decision with your spouse is likely to be what happens. Even if your child has a preference, the court will only consider it.
Interestingly, Florida is one of few states that allow a child to make their preferences known at any age. The court does want to see that the child is old enough to understand the implications of wanting to stay with their mom or dad, but it will still hear what they have to say. The child’s wishes are important, but they will not be what decides custody overall.
What factors help a judge determine a custody arrangement?
If you and your spouse haven’t been able to come up with a custody agreement, then a judge may need to do so for you. Some of the factors they’ll consider include:
- Any preferences you and your spouse have
- Who is more likely to take care of your child’s needs appropriately
- Who can provide a more stable environment
- Who has raised your child most significantly (I.e.: A stay at home parent versus one who works outside the home)
There may be additional factors for the judge to consider as well, such as allegations of abuse, concerns about schooling, special education needs and your child’s health conditions. While your child will get to express their wishes, the judge may put those aside if there is a better custody arrangement available for your child’s care.