When a divorce or child custody case begins, many come to their attorney and express that their kids want to live with them. They then think they have an easy matter. Is this mindset proper? Do kids get to decide where they live in a divorce or child custody case?
The reality is that child custody is determined by looking at the children’s best interests. In determining what is in the best interests of the children, family courts are to look at the statutory factors.
The reality is the wishes of the children are one of the factors that the court can consider in determining what is in the best interests of the children. However, there are many other factors that the court can consider as well.
Thus, kids do not get to pick where they get to live. On the other hand, a court can certainly consider the wishes of the children. In doing so, they might decipher the reasons they want to leave with one parent over the other.
If the reasons are good like they have a more stable home there, and can get a better education and/or emotional support in one parent’s household over the other, then a judge may certainly be swayed. The age of the children can affect them as well. In other words, the older the child is, the more likely their wishes might be taken into account.
On the other hand, if their reasons are not good, then a judge could put little weight on the wishes of the children. Take cases where a child wants to live with one parent because they do not have a curfew, do not have to study, etc. Or, take a case where the child has been influenced improperly by one of the parents.
At the end of the day, the wishes of the children are simply one factor that the court can consider in determining custody. It certainly isn’t irrelevant. But it’s not dispositive at the same time.
If you are going through a child custody case, Stange Law Firm, PC can help. You can call us at 855-805-0595.