Custody Laws for a 16-Year-Old in Florida

By C.K. Adams

Updated July 20, 2017

Florida law gives specific limitations to those filing for divorce and custody of a child. A 16-year-old has certain rights in the court of law, but mostly these rights are intended to protect the child. For instance, Florida law states that the testimony of a child is not sufficient evidence to prove who receives custody, if the court even permits the child into court. Other Florida laws concerning a person 16 years of age and custody includes emancipation rights. Even as a teenager in Florida, you must abide by the court's decision and live with the custodial parent.

Limitations to Custody

Under Title VI, Chapter 61 in Florida custody law, a child means anyone under the age of 18. While a teenager, a person who is 16 years of age must follow court orders and proceedings. A child is not considered legally competent to make decisions; such as which parent to live with. In Florida, children are not normally a part of custody suits, though a judge may order a child to appear to ascertain his safety under Title VI, Chapter 61, 523. For one, children do not always understand the gravity of the situation, and more importantly, the law wants to protect children from making a choice of one parent over the other.

Court's Decision

The court ultimately presides and chooses the best parent for a 16-year-old to live with. The judge takes in all of the evidence and testimony. Parents of the child must have a history and live within the home state of Florida, when filing for child custody. Evidence must be given that shows the child's care, education, protection and safety while in the parent's custody. While you may appeal this decision, the court's decision is final and binding, which means that if you disobey visitation rights or choose to abandon the child, you may be held accountable.

Evidence for Child Custody

The first part of the evidence must show where the child lives and has lived during the last five years. The names and addresses of all previous living situations must be submitted to the court. Any past proceedings and determinations of child custody must also be presented with case numbers. In addition, if any past proceedings would affect the judge's decision concerning domestic violence, termination of parental rights, protective orders and adoptions, then the case numbers must also be submitted to the court. Other persons with visitation rights, or who currently look after the child, must also submit information to the court, such as a grandparent, uncle or friend of the family.

Emancipation Rights

In Florida, teenagers legally emancipate at the age of 18; when they are no longer considered children. However, a 16-year-old may ask for emancipation, or the removal of disabilities of nonage under Florida Statute 743. You must be 16 years of age to obtain a court order for emancipation. A minor who receives this order gains all the rights and responsibilities of an adult. A child wishing for emancipation must petition with a civil cover sheet, summons for parents or other witness, petition for emancipation, notice for permanent mailing address and a statement of responsibility. Once emancipated, the child has free-reign over all of his affairs and is no longer under the custody of his parents, but the child must show a specific plan that shows how he supports himself. Evidence must also be given that the minor is not dependent on benefits, which are removed at the time of emancipation. Most importantly, the minor must show why he needs to be emancipated from his parents.

Read More: Divorce & Emancipation

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