One of the most challenging aspects of divorce is deciding who will have custody of the children. The courts use many factors to determine the ideal arrangement, but the most crucial consideration is the child’s best interests.
Several elements contribute to what a court finds is in the child’s best interests – one is the child’s choice for themselves. For example, parents often request that the courts interview a child and ask them which parent they would like to live with. Courts sometimes enable an in-camera interview with a child, but this is not always possible.
Before, a court could get a child’s opinion by asking them in-person what they want to do with the custody arrangement. However, this causes problems because this method is highly vulnerable to manipulation – a parent can easily manipulate their child to write their name over the other. So now, the judge may interview the child in chambers to determine their preference for a nonjury trial. Unfortunately, the child may have to state their choice in the hearing if it’s a jury trial.
Divorces involving children can be challenging. But the court’s decision will depend on which parent can better provide emotional or financial stability for the child. Still, the kid’s preferences carry weight in the consideration. A child custody attorney in Texas can help guide you and your family throughout the process.
Does the Child’s Age Play a Role in Having a Say in Child Custody?
Section 153.009 of the Family Code states that the court will meet with a child 12 years of age or older to determine their wishes about who they want as their primary guardian. In addition, they will also discuss the child’s wishes regarding possession, access or any issue affecting the parent-child relationship during the interview.
One of the parents, along with their divorce lawyer, needs to request the interview, then the judge will decide if they will or will not choose to meet the child under the age of 12.
Child Custody is Still at the Court’s Discretion
When deciding on primary residence and visitation, the court will make sure that the child has their voice heard. However, it’s still up to them to choose who they want as their primary guardian. Just because a child says she wishes to live with her father does not mean that will be the court’s final decision.
The court will always try to make decisions that serve the child’s best interests. A kid’s preference is one of the factors considered, but others are also evaluated. The following are points that might affect a court’s child custody settlement.
- If there is a history of sexual abuse.
- If there is a history of domestic violence.
- The parent’s ability to provide for the child’s basic needs.
- The parent’s ability to give the child a safe home.
- The dynamics of the relationship between the parent and the child.
The Influence of Parents on the Child Custody Interview
Judges recommend that parents not discuss their pending custody case with their children out of concern that they will influence their decision. It’s prevalent for a parent to pressure their child to choose them over the other, even if they don’t say it outright. Communication is not just verbal – it’s nonverbal too. Are you communicating something to your child when they see you crying? Of course. Other adults may also influence the child’s decision. For example, grandparents are especially effective mouthpieces for a custody fight.
Unfortunately, in most cases, child manipulation has been going on for months before the filing of the custody case. So courts ordering parents not to discuss custody with their offspring is like draining your bathtub before the hurricane hits. As a result, their perception of truth and reality is already altered by the time of the interview.
The best action for parents is to hire a divorce lawyer to represent them in the case. With the guidance of a child custody attorney, you have a better chance of winning the custody battle.
Seek the Help of a Child Custody Attorney in Texas
Determining which parent the child will primarily reside in can be difficult for everyone involved. So make sure you have legal representation to help you present your case and represent your rights through all stages of the custody process. Call the Law Offices of David Kohm today to talk to an expert divorce lawyer at any of our convenient locations and get a free consultation.
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