Do Kids' Opinions Matter in Florida Child Custody Hearings?

Divorce is not an easy process for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for couples who have children. Although two individuals may decide they no longer wish to be married, their kids may not feel the same way. In fact, most children take divorce hard, as they don’t want to see their parents living apart.

In the best situations, parents are able to reach amicable agreements related to child custody and time-sharing, a process that they can complete through mediation or arbitration. However, when an agreement doesn’t appear possible, parents may need to go to court and have a judge make a decision for them.

In Florida child custody hearings, judges may consider numerous factors concerning which type of arrangement would be in the best interests of the children in question. These factors may include kids’ educational and behavioral needs, current social situation and any religious activities in which they’re currently engaged. In short, courts aim to allow children the opportunities they need to grow up in a mentally, emotionally and physically healthy environment.

As part of this process, judges may ask older children (generally those over the age of 11) their opinions and preferences on the matter. Although they may consider the testimony of kids, however, it is still only one of many factors involved — and most judges do not place considerable weight on children’s preferences. And if the judge believes that the child has been coached or persuaded in any way by one or both of the parents, he or she will likely not allow the child to provide input at all.

Child custody hearings can be very stressful and it’s advisable to secure sound legal assistance as you work through the process. To work with a skilled Florida family law attorney today, call on the Law Office of K. Dean Kantaras.

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