One common misconception about divorce in Florida is that the children get to decide which parent they live with. That is up to the courts.
The children’s preference can affect the judge’s decision, but it is never the deciding factor.
The children’s best interests
The courts determine custody, known as “parenting plans,” based on what they deem is best for the children. The judge could also base their decision on the moral fitness of each parent or grant more time to the parent that seems more dedicated to the children’s welfare.
The children’s preference
If the judge does decide to consider the children’s preference, they will conduct an in-camera examination. This examination takes place only between the children and the judge. Parents and lawyers cannot attend so that the children can be open and honest without external influence.
A court-ordered parenting plan details the responsibilities and authority of each parent post-divorce. Each parenting plan specifies the time parents will spend with the children and determines which parent will be responsible for different facets of the children’s lives. For example, one might be in charge of healthcare while the other has the authority over their education.
There is no standard time-sharing schedule that fits all families. Factors that influence a family’s time-sharing schedules include minimizing disruption in the children’s lives and maximizing the amount of time each parent can have. Plans typically require detailed and structured schedules and often fall under common time-sharing schedules, such as alternating weeks for equal time-sharing or alternating patterns for unequal schedules.
The courts put the children first when determining parenting plans. Parents who make their dedication to their children clear have a better chance of getting more time.