Children Choosing Parents During a Divorce
When you’re in the midst of a custody dispute and are trying to craft an official agreement, a phrase you’ll hear more often than not is: “the best needs of the child.” The best interests of the child are one of the most important considerations in any custody case. This is a standard applied by courts when making decisions about parental rights and responsibilities for children. So, what about the cases with children choosing parents?
The unfortunate side of this is that we can’t exactly have our child in the room with us telling us exactly what they want. Your child won’t be able to guide you and your ex through this process (though a lawyer can), and you must make hard choices without their input.
If you really desire your child’s say on the matter, in some cases, the court might allow them to express a preference. But it’s important to remember that the court is not bound by your child’s opinion. The court will consider whatever information you can provide about what would be best for your child, but ultimately, it makes the decision based on its own criteria.
Your Child’s Age
Although the child cannot choose which parent they want to live with, a court will consider evidence of any preference expressed by your child if he or she is over 14 years old. A child’s preference for another parent having primary or shared custody does not by itself determine which parent will gain majority or full time-sharing of a child; however, it can be taken into consideration when the court evaluates whether proposed custody arrangements are in the best interests of the child.
The court will consider all relevant factors in making its decision on custody. This includes considering which parent has been the primary caretaker for your child, any history of domestic violence or child abuse, and whether one parent has a criminal record or is unable to provide for their children financially. The court also considers each parent’s ability to put their own interests aside and focus on what is best for your child if they live with them.
If your child is younger than 14, they will have to wait until they turn the age of 14 before they are able to express their wishes regarding custody. Until they reach fourteen years of age, their custody is determined by a court based solely on what is in the best interests (of) the child. If you or your spouse later pursues a child custody modification and your child is at least 14, the court will consider what he or she has to say about where he wants to live.
Conclusion for Children Choosing Parents
When drafting or modifying a child custody agreement, you should consider how it will serve your family’s current and future needs. If you and your spouse have a child over the age of 14, our child custody lawyers will assist your family in protecting your child’s right to express their preference for custody. At Thompson Law, your family comes first, and we’re devoted to creating a plan that addresses your needs.