In the vast majority of divorces, multiple children will stay together in one home. Both parents and the courts usually agree that what works for one child regarding custody arrangements will work for the other. There are also several psychological and practical benefits of having multiple children living together in the same home as well.
However, there are situations where the court may order that siblings be separated, or the parties may request that the siblings be split. Nonetheless, those circumstances are often few and far between.
How Judges Decide Custody in Florida
The court determines custody matters based on the “best interests of the child.” However, where the parties agree on custody and visitation arrangements, a judge will generally not change the agreement unless he or she determines that it is unreasonable or would not be in the child’s best interests. The same can be said about situations where parties are asking to split up children.
The same factors regarding custody generally will apply to determinations of whether to put children in different households. For example, a Florida judge will often consider the following factors when deciding custody disputes:
- Both parents’ willingness to abide by the custody and time-sharing schedule
- The length of time that a child has lived in his or her current residence or with the current parent who has physical custody on a day-to-day basis
- Each parent’s physical and mental health
- Whether the child will have to switch schools or care centers as a result of a change in custody
- The parents’ general levels of responsibility and willingness to care for their child
- Any evidence of abuse, neglect, or drug use
- The parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs with regard to health, safety, education, and overall development
Every case is different, so the judge will dive into very detailed information about your particular situation when making a custody decision.
Particular Considerations for Multiple Children
In Florida, there is no set age when a child is deemed competent enough to express where he or she would like to live. However, if a judge determines that a child is old enough to express an opinion, the judge will take the child’s preference into consideration along with a variety of other factors when making custody decisions. Most courts will agree that ten years old is too young for the child to express a meaningful preference, but not always.
The child’s ability to express a preference is important because situations where children are split often arise when one child indicates a preference to live with one parent while the other child represents the opposite desire. These cases often occur in older children who want to stay with their same-sex parent or with a parent that will permit them to remain in the same school or neighborhood.
Generally, courts will avoid splitting children if possible, but if the parties express that the division will work for their family, then a judge is much more likely to allow it.
If you have child custody concerns or questions, Blair H. Chan, III, PLC can help. Call 813-280-5301 today for more information.