Can a child testify which parent to live with in a divorce proceeding?
Whether a child can testify which parent he or she wants to live with in a divorce proceeding depends on the particular judge and the age and maturity of the child. In Florida divorce and child custody proceedings, a guardian ad litem (GAL) may be appointed to investigate solutions that are in the best interests of the children involved. Whether the GAL is appointed by court order, a party's petition or by stipulation of both parties, the role of the GAL will remain the same.
Attorney Tom Olsen: Robbin, you're on News 96.5. Go ahead.
Robin: Hi, I don't really know how to ask this, but is there an age that a child who is 13 has a say as far as her visitation and length of visitation through one of the parents?
Attorney Tom Olsen: There is no law governing that issue, it is determined by the judge. Now, when things are really heated up and there's a big battle going on, the court often will appoint an attorney ad litem whose job is the solely represent the minor children or child. That attorney ad litem is certainly going to have some private conversations with the child including your 13-year-old. That attorney is certainly going to report to the court what that attorney thinks would be the best interest of the child and certainly, that would include what the child wants to do.
Robin: How do I get a hold of one of these?
Attorney Tom Olsen: Well, it's part of the court process. Now Robin, are you divorced yet, or are you going to get divorced?
Robin: Let me tell you, I am the grandparent. It’s a long story.
Attorney Tom Olsen: Robin, we don't have time for a long story, but the bottom line is if the parents get into court and there is a dispute about child visitation and they can't work it out and the judge cannot easily work it out, that's when the judge will appoint an attorney ad litem whose sole job is to represent the best interests of the minor children. By the way mom and dad are going to pay for that attorney ad litem.