Does a Child Have Any Say Over Custody?

Does a Child Have Any Say Over Custody?

The most contentious and divisive issues in any divorce are often related to child custody. When all is said and done, where will the children live? When will they spend time with both of their parents? Who makes the decisions for the child? When parents separate from one another, the court will look at the best interests of the child and make decisions regarding custody and visitation from what they think will best suit them. However, what happens if the desires of the child interfere with what custody agreement the court would usually grant?

What does the court consider when deciding custody?

Under Texas law, a child that is at least 12 years old can tell the court what their preferred living arrangement may be. The court will take this into consideration, but does not need to grant the child's wishes if they feel doing so would be contrary to their best interests. While the child is unable to make any decisions about where they will live until they turn 18, the closer to the legal age the child may be, the more likely they are to have their preferences and wished granted by the court in a custody case.

If a child has strong feelings about which parent they want to live with and they are over the age of 12, they can request a hearing with a judge. The judge will speak with the child about the custody agreement and review the reasons why the child would prefer to live with one parent over the other. In addition, the child can bring up concerns and considerations about visitation with each of the parents for the court to consider.

When considering the wishes of the child, the judge will take into account:

  • Age and maturity of the child
  • Why the child has this preference
  • Child's hostility towards one parent
  • Preferences of the other siblings

The judge will use the child's answers to help them make their decision. It is likely that some factors will override the child's decision, such as avoiding a custody arrangement that alters the stability and structure of the child's life, keeping the child with their siblings, and ensuring the care and attention the child will need is provided.

Custody is meant to be in best interests of the children. While they have some say in what is occurring, they do not get the final word. If you have an upcoming custody hearing and are wondering what you can expect, contact the Dallas attorneys at Mathur Law Offices, P.C..