Do Minors Living in the State of Florida have the Right to Decide who They Live With?

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“In the state of Florida, do minors have the right to decide to change custody and live with a non-custodial parent?

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Background: My child is 14 and has recently decided that she doesn’t want to move with me to a neighboring city. Instead she wants to live with her Father and continue to go to the same high school. I don’t want to give up custody, but am not clear on what our rights are.”

Generally speaking, in most states, a child does not have the right to choose with whom they will live, regardless of how old the child is, although many people mistakenly believe that there is a magic age at which children can make that choice. Some courts will, however, consider a child’s wishes when adjudicating custody and timeshare, if the child is of an age to rationally articulate their preferences.

As a practical matter, though, by the time a child is a teenager, it’s pretty hard to force them to live where they don’t want to live as, if they are determined enough, they will simply run away to the other parent, and many courts will not force a teen to go back to where they don’t wish to live.

If you reason for not wanting to give up custody is financial, you may wish to discuss your concerns with the father, and see if you can work out some acceptable arrangement. It seems perfectly reasonable for a teenager to not want to move away from all of her friends and the school that she knows, and also reasonable to live with her other parent to do so – particularly when the moving parent will not be very far away.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.