Custody issues are among the most complex issues faced by divorcing parents. Sometimes, a child will express strong opinions about the matter and specifically ask to live with one parent.
Exactly how much control do they have over the court’s decision?
When a child is under 12 years of age
If your child is 12-years-old or younger, the court may consider what they have to say — but they are under no obligation to do so.
Generally, the courts consider it unusual for a child of that age to have the emotional and intellectual maturity to offer a reasoned opinion — but there are no absolutes. If the court decides to hear your child out, the judge will do so in their chambers, not open court.
When a child is 12 years of age or older
Older children can often articulate reasonable explanations for their choice of one parent over the other.
At the request of either parent, the child, or the child’s attorney ad litem, the court will interview the child in the judge’s chamber about their feelings on the matter.
What controls the judge’s decision
Your child’s opinion on the matter of their primary residence is not the only factor the judge will consider — by far. In all situations, a child’s feelings take a backseat to what the court may feel is in their best interests.
In practical terms, that means that your child’s feelings may carry a lot of weight if their reasoning is sound and all other factors between you and your ex are equal. If your child’s reasons are misguided or frivolous, they could carry no weight at all.
Whatever your custody issues, don’t try to handle the situation on your own. Let a San Antonio attorney guide you through the process.