How Much Does a Child’s Preference Matter in a Custody Case?
If you are in the middle of a child custody battle, you might be wondering if your child’s wishes will be taken into consideration. After all, some children do have a preference regarding which parent they want to live with. However, there are many factors to consider before the court will use the child’s preferences when making a decision.
Age and Maturity of the Child
In most cases, the older the child is, the more influence his or her wishes will have when the judge makes this decision. If you have a teenager who says he or she wants to live with you instead of the other parent, you may have a slight advantage in the child custody case. Of course, a toddler’s preferences will be given very little weight in this matter.
But the maturity of the child will also be considered. If you have an older child who is developmentally disabled, his or her wishes may be considered the same amount as a younger child’s preferences. This means you should keep in mind the maturity of your child before you can count on his or her wishes affecting the court’s decision.
If the judge believes the child has been pressured by one parent to choose him or her over the other parent, the wishes will likely be disregarded. Judges can often sense when a child is anxious or downright scared when claiming he or she has a preference in parents. If there is any evidence that one parent has bribed or even threatened the child, the judge will not consider the child’s wishes. In fact, this may be a reason to let the other parent have custody instead.
Best Interests of the Child
Of course, many children do not think of their health or safety when choosing a parent to live with. They might think about the parent who gives them more freedom, or various material things. Therefore, the judge will likely ignore the child’s preferences if the chosen parent cannot provide a safe environment to grow up in. If the other parent is around more often, or is more attentive to the child’s health needs, the judge will likely favor him or her for child custody.
For this reason, you should continue to do all you can to provide a safe, loving home for your child. Your ex may bribe the child or act more like a friend than a parent, which may appeal to him or her. However, if the judge sees that your ex cannot provide the safe environment that you can, you will likely have the advantage. Of course, other factors are taken into consideration, so you should rest assured that your child’s preferences will not necessarily decide the outcome of the child custody case.
If you are worried about your chances of getting custody of your children, come to Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. for legal advice.