A lot of moms and dads ask us, “Well, when do the children get to decide where they're going to live and which parent they're going to spend parenting time with?” A lot of these cases involve children that, at the time of the divorce were maybe eight, nine, or 10 years old, and years later, in a split custody situation, a parent will say, “Well, my daughter doesn't want to go over and see the other parent anymore and she's now 14 years old and she should be old enough to decide.”
Florida's law is defined with respect to children by the best interest statute. And the best interest statute in Florida does not include an age for children to be able to have a say in when they can or cannot see the other parent, or what kind of parenting time should be imposed.
So, in many of these cases, what we do is we try to have either a neutral expert appointed, such as a child family investigator or a parental responsibilities evaluator, or even a child therapist who may be seeing the children, talk to the kids, get their input so that the input can be provided to a judge to make a decision.
Many times a court is entitled to speak to children in camera, that means in chambers, without a recording device or with a recording device, and speak directly to children about what they see as problems with parenting and what they want.
So it's always good to talk to a qualified lawyer about your options when you want to have children make an impact in the parenting case.