In Florida child custody cases, the courts look at a variety of different factors when determining what is in the best interests of the child. Child custody determines where a child will stay the majority of the time, who, if not both parents, has a say in the child’s medical care, education and other parenting decisions. Public policy states that each minor child should have continuing contact with his or her parents. It is in the child’s best interests for parents to share rights and responsibilities. Does the child have any rights to a preference?

According to the Florida statutes, shared responsibilities are what the court prefers unless one parent is detrimental to the well-being of the child. Before the child turns 18, he or she does not have a legal right to choose a custodial parent. However, he or she can influence the decision. The influence that a child has depends heavily on the age and maturity of the child. The child must be of sufficient understanding and intelligence to make a sound decision. If he or she has a preference, the court may consider it in regards to custody.

Most of the decision relies on the parents’ abilities to care for the child and to act in the child’s best interests. The court will consider whether a parent can provide a routine, can communicate with the other parent and does not have a history of domestic violence. Parents should stand unified on all major decisions regarding their child.

The above information is for educational purposes only and is not to be used as legal advice.