You know things in your divorce went from bad to worse when normal disagreements have escalated into destructive behaviors intentionally disrupting and damaging your life.
Without a referee addressing the intense friction between you and your spouse, your child may feel they can no longer take a back seat and contemplate weighing in on the matter. But can they?
Your child’s voice
In Texas, your child cannot decide on custody. But they can use their voice to express which parent they want to live with. Nonetheless, the court has no obligation to follow your child’s wishes.
Under Texas Family Code 153.009, the “interview of child in chambers” section outlines the following requirements:
- Your child must be at least 12 years or older. It is the court’s discretion if your child is under 12.
- The judge conducts the interview in their chambers or in a private office.
- The interview is based on a motion filed by either spouse, the court, or an amicus, a judge-appointed neutral attorney.
- The interview’s discussion points revolve around the child’s wishes about primary conservatorship, residence and other possible custody matters.
- An attorney representing you or your child may be present during the interview.
- You may ask the judge to record the interview, usually through a transcriber.
In a high-conflict divorce, a judge appoints an amicus attorney as another representative advocating for your child’s best interests. To shed light on your divorce’s circumstances and to establish well-informed details about your child, they conduct home visits, third-party interviews with your doctors and friends, and attend court hearings.
The court will always decide on your child’s best interests by considering relevant factors including, but not limited to, your child’s overall needs, quality of parent-child relationships, both spouses’ financial and health situations, and any history of abuse.
Additionally, even after the court decides who gets custody, you can still file for modifications if there are substantial changes that occurred in your family’s circumstances – a child abuse or family violence conviction, increased cost of living, change of residence, and a primary conservator’s severe illness or death.
A peaceful compromise
Survival in a high-conflict divorce depends on how you and your spouse tackle disputed issues with a reasonable approach to prioritize your child’s well-being and development. But if even in your best efforts toward amicable compromises, the atmosphere remains combative, you may seek the help of a legal team to devise strategic courses of action unique to your family’s situation.