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Is there an age where a child can decide which parent they want to live with?

  • By: Andrew Merlo
  • Published: October 15, 2018

Florida courts generally feel it is detrimental to have a child testify against either parent. However, there are procedures for when it is allowed, but you have to first get the permission from the judge before a child will be permitted to do so. Even with permission, the child’s wishes are only a single factor of what is best for the child.

There is no law in Florida where a child can testify once he reaches a certain age. Generally speaking, the child’s wishes are relevant and the older the child gets the more relevance his wishes become. For example, if a 4-year old child says, “I want to live with mommy”, then the judge is going to say, “That is nice but the child needs to see both parents”. However, if it is a 17-year old daughter saying, “I want to live with my mom”, the judge is going to give the 17-year old who can demonstrate sufficient maturity and understanding of the implications of their statement, a lot more weight.

Again, there is no clear cut-off line; there is no age rule. The main factor is whether the child has the maturity to understand what it is that they are testifying about and the ability to tell the truth.

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