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When Can My Child Tell the Judge Which Parent He or She Wants To Live With?

Pursuant to §61.13, Florida Statutes, one of the many factors the court considers when ordering a parenting plan is, “the reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference”. The old rule of thumb used to be 14 years of age, but there is no set age at which the court makes the determination that a child is old enough to maturely express a preference. Often, when the judge wants to hear about the child’s feelings on the issue of time sharing (formerly known as custody), the judge will appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to speak to the child and represent the child’s best interests in court, and many judges prefer to do this rather than to subject the child to litigation between his or her parents.