Are you getting a divorce? Worried about maintaining custody of your kids? You may be curious about how much sway a child’s opinion will have. There are some important things to consider when custody is being determined. Here’s what you should know and how your child custody lawyer can help you.
Ask a Child Custody Lawyer: Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With?
Who Decides Who Gets Custody?
Kids may have an opinion as to who they want to live with when their parents get divorced, but these opinions will not be the deciding factor. In the end, the judge will decide who should have custody.
Several factors will be considered when deciding who gets custody of kids involved in a divorce. Ultimately, the main concern is doing what’s in the best interests of the children. A child’s wishes may certainly be taken into account, but this will not be the most important factor in consideration.
How Much Does a Child’s Opinion Matter?
The judge presiding over your case may ask what your children’s wishes are when discussing child custody. They may also have a social worker or guardian to work closely with the child.
During this time, the professional will make a report outlining things like the child’s lifestyle, emotional health, the financial stability of the parents, and other important information. The report may also outline the child’s preferences. The judge will look over this report and use it as a basis for who should get custody.
When Can a Child Choose Who to Live With?
Until they turn 18, children are legally considered minors. As minors, the court does not consider them capable to make this decision for themselves. One uncommon exception to this is if the child is emancipated before they turn 18. If this is the case, they can choose who to live with.
Although they can’t make the decision for themselves before age 18, the older a child gets, the more the judge will take their opinions into account when determining custody.
How Does the Court Decide Who Gets Custody?
The Children’s Relationship with Each Parent
The judge presiding over your case will want to make sure that your children’s emotional needs are supported after the divorce is finalized. To ensure this, one of the factors they’ll consider is what each parent’s relationship with the children was like prior to the divorce.
They can provide valuable insight into preserving the relationship between a child and their divorcing parents. A divorce lawyer understands the delicate nature of divorce proceedings and strives with great care to assist the parties in navigating conflict resolution and the emotions that may arise during such difficult times. By focusing on providing legal advice as well as personalized support, divorce lawyers can help protect the best interests of a child without putting additional stress on them or their family.
For instance, if you made sure to spend a lot of time with and take care of your kids on a daily basis, this is a point in your favor. If, however, you are only spending time with your kids now that the marriage is ending, that’s not going to look good.
The Parents’ Willingness to Support Each Other’s Relationship with the Kids
The relationship you have with your kids is important. But so is the relationship between yourself and your former spouse. Even though you may be divorcing, being supportive of your ex’s relationship with your kids can help you maintain custody.
The judge will look at how willing you are to ensure that your children have a healthy relationship both with yourself and your ex. If one of you is bad-mouthing the other or starting arguments when dropping off the kids, the judge is going to take this into account.
A Child’s Need for Stability
Divorce can be a stressful and traumatic process for everyone involved in it, including your kids. That’s why judges will consider what living situation will offer the most stability and ensure that the children’s lives aren’t disturbed more than they already are.
For instance, if you are going to continue living close to your children’s school, judges will prefer that over moving and forcing kids to attend a different school. Your living situation is also a factor. If you are keeping the family home, the judge may be more inclined to grant you custody.
A History of Abuse
If you are getting divorced and there is a history of abuse, you need to be upfront about this with your Houston child custody lawyer. Your lawyer will help you get away from your spouse and ensure that your kids get away from them too.
If there has been a history of abuse or neglect, then a judge will limit the amount of contact that the abusive parent has with the kids. If the judge does decide to allow the abusive parent to see the kids, these visits will be highly structured and supervised for everyone’s safety.
It’s natural to be concerned about the fate of your kids when you’re getting divorced. It’s important to remember all the above information when seeking to maintain custody of your children. You should also work with a qualified lawyer who can support you and protect your rights throughout the process.