Child Custody Laws Florida Adheres To
As you are well aware from reading the prior posts on this site, the term child custody is now obsolete. Regardless of semantics, when facing a divorce with children in common, who will end up with the children is usually in the forefront of a person’s mind. As a family law attorney, I always hope that my Clients will have their child’s best interest in mind in that their number one priority will be ensuring that the transition from a nuclear family unit is as seamless as possible for their little bundle of joy. Unfortunately, more often than not, this is not the case. Although I force my Clients to swallow the mantra, “no matter how much you hate your ex you have to love your child more”, some people are so amped up on a cocktail of bitterness and revenge that they will stop at nothing to achieve their goals… even if it’s at the cost of their kids.
What Child Custody Laws Say About the Child’s Preference
One of the worst, and most common, offenses is when there is a battle over parental responsibility (f/k/a custody) and one party insists that the child wants to stay with them. To facilitate this, the parent insists that the child wants to express his or her preference to the Judge. Divorce can be one of the most tumultuous times in a person’s life, it can force people to not think straight and become irrational. In fact, this thought may have even crossed YOUR mind. Your ex is playing dirty and you are just trying to be the responsible one and fight to protect your kids, right?! WRONG. Take a step back and look at the ancillary issues as to why you believe your child would be a good witness against your ex. Chances are Junior has a wealth of inappropriate knowledge about your messy divorce or your scumbag ex and now, he or she has been placed in between Mommy and Daddy, forced to relive the nightmare for the next twenty years on some shrink’s couch. Now, surely that doesn’t sound like a good look for the apple of your eye, does it?
Practically speaking, preference of a child is just one factor of many factors in determination of parental responsibility and child custody. People often have a misconception about the weight of this one factor and may pressure a child to live with him or her for reasons having nothing to do with the child’s best interest (ie to manipulate child support calculations or hurt the other parent). Some Judges won’t even give weight to a child’s preference and many times will treat a preference to one parent during divorce as suspect. There are countless studies fueled by evidence of the trauma associated with a child being exposed to his or her parents’ divorce proceedings. Because of this, there are several procedural rules in place regarding child testimony to ensure kids are safeguarded from being utilized as pawns by the very people who are supposed to protect them.
Of course, there are certain situations, when there are allegations of abuse and/or neglect, where a child’s testimony is necessary. Further, there are ways to establish sole parental responsibility or secure majority time-sharing without damaging your children. Child Custody Lawyers can help guide you through this process and shield your children from the pain of being key players in your divorce.