Custody cases can be difficult, as parents might have to put their relationships with their children in the hands of the court. Courts must consider many factors to determine what type of arrangement is in the best interests of the child, and many parents wonder whether the child’s opinion and preference will play a role in the decision.
The answer is that sometimes, a court will consider the preference of the child. However, the court will still make its own decision and will not automatically follow what the child wants.
Is the Child Old and Mature Enough?
The law in California assumes that a child age 14 or older has the right to be heard regarding their preferences. However, younger children might have the maturity and ability to give a well-reasoned opinion on the matter, and a judge might allow them to express their opinion in such cases. The judge decides whether a child should testify on a case-by-case basis.
How Does the Court Get the Child’s Opinion?
The child can testify in court if the judge believes it will not be detrimental to the child. The judge can also meet with the child in chambers without the parents present to ask their opinion, or might have a child evaluator or guardian ad litem report the child’s opinions to the judge.
Weight Given to the Child’s Wishes
Some children do not have valid reasons for wanting to live with one parent over the other. For instance, if a 16-year-old says they want to live with their father because they do not have a curfew at the father’s home, but they have a curfew at the mother’s home, the court might not weigh this reasoning heavily. However, if the father’s home is closer to school and all the child’s friends and activities, and the mother’s home has a much longer commute for the child, that might get more consideration.
A Murrieta Child Custody Attorney is Ready to Help
You want help from a Murrieta child custody lawyer whether your child is allowed to express their opinion or not. Discuss your situation and case with Furubotten Law by contacting us today.