Does a Child Have a Say in Their Custody Agreement?
Child custody is often a contentious issue in a Texas divorce. Both parents typically want custody of the child. Where will the child live?
If the parent cannot decide on child custody on their own, then the courts will decide. Judges decide on child custody issues based on the best interests of the child. The best interests of the child are based on many factors, such as the ability of each parent to care for the child, the relationship each parent has with the child, the stability of the child, any instances of child abuse, and more.
If the child is of a certain age, then the child’s preference could play a role as well. Does this mean your child could decide where they want to live? Not necessarily. Read on to learn more about child preference in Texas child custody agreements.
What the Law Says
Under Family Code Section 153.009, if the child is at least 12 years old, the court may interview the child to determine their wishes in regard to possession, access, and any other issues affecting the parent-child relationship. The court may allow an attorney to be present in the interview. A record of the interview will be made.
The purpose of the interview is to determine the child’s wishes. The Texas Legislature claims that the child’s voice needs to be heard because their future is at stake.
However, the child does not ultimately determine the terms of the custody agreement. While children who are at least 12 years of age do have a say in where they will live, the judge does not have to follow the child’s wishes. Therefore, parents can rest assured that their children will not be able to decide where they will live after a divorce.
The judge is given discretion as to how to decide on custody matters. The weight of the child’s preference will be determined on a case-by-case basis. It may also vary based on the judge. Some judges place more weight on the child’s preference, while others may barely consider it.
The reasons for the child’s choice will also be taken into consideration. Why does the child want to live with a certain parent? Is it because the parent is lenient and has very few rules? Does the child get spoiled by that parent? The court wants to make sure the reasons are good. While the child’s wishes will be taken into consideration, the best interests of the children will be considered overall.
Contact Our Pearland Child Custody Lawyer Today
While children do not have the ultimate say as to who they should live with, those over the age of 12 can make their wishes known, and the court can then make a decision as they see fit.
Want to learn more about child custody and the best interests of the child? Seek legal help from Pearland divorce lawyer John Powell III, P.C. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Call (281) 747-6346 or fill out the online form.