In Pinellas County, and throughout Florida, the courts try to award joint custody arrangement with each parent having significant quality time with their children. Sometimes that means a 50/50 timesharing agreement, other times it looks a little different. However, it is not uncommon for a client to ask us whether their child’s desires can or should be taken into consideration when it comes to their primary living arrangements.
Learn the Reason Behind Their Desire
It is always better for the minor children when the parents have a reasonably good relationship. That way all parties can sit down and talk about the child’s reasons for wanting to live with one parent or the other. Sometimes a child has a very valid reason. Other times it is because the current love interest lives down the street. If you can, as a team, talk to the child about their decision and reason for requesting a change to the current timesharing agreement, you may find out more about your child than you ever knew.
Age and Maturity Matter
Whether you have only young children or teens, you have likely heard the words, “I hate you.” come from your child’s mouth. And, as a divorced parent, the rest of the sentence is, “I am going to live with…“. Rules, differing options, chores and the like are not valid reasons for a child to want to live at the other parent’s home. In fact, it is a sign that the child is not emotionally mature enough to decide where they are going to live.
However, there are circumstances where the court may take into consideration a child’s desire for one household or the other. For example, a child with a commitment to an activity where one of the parents is highly involved may find it easier to live with that parent and visit the other. A child may simply feel closer to one parent. And, depending on the age and maturity level, a judge may take their wants into consideration.
Do We Need to Legally Modify our Timesharing Agreement?
Anytime there is a permanent change to a child’s living situation, you should modify the timesharing agreement with the help of your family lawyer. Since most cases involve child support, timesharing changes the payment. You may also need to modify who has primary legal custody if the change affects schooling. If you have multiple children, a change to one’s situation does not necessarily mean all children’s timesharing changes.
Wagstaff & Pitelis Offers Divorce, Child Support & Timesharing Modification Services
As a family law firm in Largo, we can help you with your divorce whether you need to modify the terms of a completed divorce or are newly separating and need help through the process. We handle all aspects from division of property to child support and timesharing agreements to alimony and, when necessary, restraining orders. Call us today to learn how we can help you – (727) 584-8182.