Can children express a preference in a custody order?
Child custody agreements are a necessary part of divorce proceedings.
Every situation is different, but the court will consider every element of the case to determine how to best protect the children.
What is in the child’s best interest?
The standard for a custody decision is what is in the child’s best interests. The judge will consider the circumstances of each parent and unique facts about the case. Determining what is best for the child means understanding the mental and physical health of each parent. It also means evaluating how they can care for the child financially and what relationships the child has with extended family.
Does the court consider the child’s preference?
The judge is not legally required to rule in favor of a child’s preference. However, they will take into serious consideration a child’s choice regardless of age. The opinions of older children have more influence because they are more mature and better understand the situation.
Typically, the court will not allow a child to testify in court. Instead, they may have someone assess the child’s wishes and needs outside of court or will interview the child on camera with the attorneys present.
Can a child refuse visitation?
Parents have an obligation to honor a court-ordered custody agreement. As children age, getting them to obey can be more difficult, but each parent should encourage the child to maintain a relationship with the other parent.
If both parents can come to a decision about custody without the court’s interference, the process of solidifying the agreement is faster.