As family law attorneys, this is a very common question we hear from divorced or divorcing parents. The short answer is that until the child turns 18, the court has the final say as to which parent has custody of the minor child or children. However, it rarely seems that simple. Here are some things you should know if your child has a preference regarding the parent with whom he or she would like to live.
Every Case is Different
Numerous factors go into the judge’s decision for time sharing and custody. Though a child may voice their preference regarding one home over the other, there are several additional factors that the judge may consider as well. One of the primary considerations is each parent’s current cooperation level with the other parent and their ability to put the child’s best interests over their own self interests. The safety and stability of the home is another primary consideration. Before making a final ruling, a judge must evaluate many factors in each case. Availability of supervision and discipline styles may also be evaluated when making a decision.
Sometimes Children Can Provide Input
Although there is no set age regarding when a judge will consider the wishes of a child, younger teens may more often be able to speak clearly with a judge regarding their preference. There are times when, if a child expresses a desire to modify the time-sharing schedule, the parents may take this into consideration and submit a modified time-sharing agreement with the help of their family law attorneys. Sometimes, however, other parties may need to be consulted in order to determine the best interest of the child.
A child can voice their reasons to their parents or the guardian ad litem for wanting to change the current arrangement. Judges seldom call a child to testify in court regarding their preferences as this could trigger emotional trauma for the child. Some children may simply prefer one parent’s school district over the other, or they may desire a shorter commute to an after-school job. There are many reasons why a child may want to have more input regarding the time-sharing agreement in place, and these reasons can sometimes be considered.
Let Wagstaff Law Office Help
If your child has voiced their desire to update your current time sharing or custody arrangement, call the family law attorneys at Wagstaff Law Office. We will spend time with you to develop and submit the petition to the county for the change. Our team will be there to support you through the process, whether it’s settled in mediation or in court with a judge. We’re here to help with your custody modifications, call us today: (727) 584-8182.