Is a Child’s Opinion Considered in The Determination of Child Custody?
During a divorce, determining which parent the child will live with as well as the visitation rights of the non-custodial parent is an emotional and potentially contentious time. While child custody involves a number of factors, parents often ask if their child’s opinion is also considered in the outcome. Continue reading to learn about child custody and a court’s consideration of the child’s preference.
Court’s Consideration of a Child’s Preference
A child’s preference is one of many factors that a court takes into consideration when determining child custody; with the assumption that the child is of a mature and sensible age to express a preference. In fact, the court will not ask this question to younger children; this inquiry is saved for older children. Furthermore, the closer the child is to the age of 18, the more influence the child’s wishes will have on the court.
The court will further examine the reasons why a child prefers one parent over the other for their primary residence. For instance, if the child has a preference to live with a parent who does not set suitable limitations for the child or who does not discipline the child, the court may determine living with this parent would not be in the child’s best interest.
Even when a child who is near legal age, expresses a preference for residing with one parent rather than the other, there are other factors to consider before the court will grant the decision. Such factors include but not limited to the stability of the environment and home of each parent; mental health of the parents; the financial situation for each parent; and where the siblings of the child reside.
A positive relationship between the child and both parents is important. If the opinion of the child is requested, it should be handled in a delicate manner. Never interpret the answer as the child loving one parent more or less than the other parent.