When Can My Child Decide Where to Live

Can my child decide where he/she wants to live?

“Can my child decide where he/she wants to live?” and “When can my child decide to not see the other parent?” are very common questions by clients and prospective clients of family law attorneys.  It is true that Florida Statutes 61.13 does state that a minor child’s preference can be looked at when determining a timesharing schedule.  The pertinent portion of Florida Statutes 61.13 reads that the Court can look at:

“The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.”

However, it must be stressed that this is only one of many factors that can be looked at and it is not viewed by the courts as being dispositive.  In fact, this factor is given very little weight even when the child is 17.  The fact is that a minor child (under the age of 18) who is not emancipated cannot simply decide where he or she is going to live.  There is a responsibility by both parents to encourage and facilitate timesharing with the other parent in accordance with the parties’ parenting plan.  Further, one of the most important factors in determining which parent, if any, is to have the child more often than the other is a party’s encouragement and facilitation of timesharing with the other parent.