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Can a child weigh in on custody decisions?

On Behalf of | Nov 14, 2023 | Child Custody

In the complex landscape of divorce, child custody becomes a pivotal point of concern.

Texas, like many states, prioritizes the best interests of the child when determining custody arrangements. While the legal process mainly relies on the court’s discretion, some wonder if a child has any say in deciding which parent gains custody.

The role of the child’s voice

The courts recognize the importance of a child’s perspective in custody decisions. However, it is important to understand that the child’s wishes are just one factor among many that the court considers. The Texas Family Code outlines various factors guiding the determination of a child’s best interests, and the child’s preference is one element considered, especially as the child grows older and matures.

Age matters

The age of the child plays a role in how much weight their preference carries. Older children, typically those around the age of 12 or older, may have more influence on custody decisions. The court may consider the child’s emotional and intellectual maturity when assessing their ability to express a reasoned preference.

Interviewing the child

To ascertain the child’s wishes, the court may appoint a neutral third party, often a child custody evaluator or amicus attorney, to interview the child. This professional assesses the child’s needs and desires and the overall parent-child relationship. The court then takes these findings into account when making a custody determination.

While 70.1% of children lived with both parents in 2019, every family is different. In divorce situations, the legal framework acknowledges the importance of a child’s voice in custody matters, but it is just one piece of the puzzle.