Gilbert J. Alba J. Mark Dubose
Gainesville Child Custody Attorney
The short answer in Florida is–not until they are an adult. It is a common misapprehension of the law that when a child turns 13 he or she can choose which parent they wish to live with. This is not true in Florida.
Although, the child’s preference where he or she wants to live may play a small part in a custody determination, children are not allowed to choose where they want to live until they turn 18. Up until that point, the court may consider their preference but can give it as much or as little weight as the court chooses depending on how mature the court feels the child is, how competent the child is to testify, and why the child prefers to live with one parent over the other.
In some instances, where all other things between the parents are equal in terms of suitability to have the child reside with them, the court may follow the child’s wishes. However, in almost all instances this is not the case and instead the child’s preference is just one of many factors for the court to consider in determining what timesharing arrangement is in the best interest of the child. Once they become legal adults, they can choose but not until then.