Divorce can be tough. Child custody battles in particular can be drawn out, bitter, and damaging. Both parents can suffer, and it is especially hard on a child involved in the process. The goal of child support, visitation, and custody agreements are to help provide the best environment for your child, and their wishes do count in terms of determining who the custodial parent will be, at least once the child reaches a certain age. What age is that and what is the process that must be followed?
When Can My Child Choose?
Your child’s wishes are only taken into account by the court once he or she reaches the age of 12. Prior to that, the child’s feelings on the matter are certainly considered, but they do not carry as much weight when it comes to which parent the child prefers to live with. Interviews will be conducted, and the child will be observed during time with both parents, and then a decision will be made that supports the child’s wellbeing prior to age 12. Once a child reaches 12 years of age, he or she can request to speak with the judge about their preferences in custodial parent.
No More Affidavit of Preference
Prior to 2009, any child age 12 or older in a divorce or after a divorce agreement could sign a form called a designation of preference basically stating that he or she wished to live with a particular parent. This would then go to the court and would become grounds for a new suit. That was eliminated in 2009. Today, Texas allows the child to express their wishes and the judge will interview them, but, ultimately, the decision of custody rests with the court.
What Factors Are Considered?
Setting custody of the child requires a lot more than just their preference in parents. It involves school, extracurricular activities, their age beyond 12 (more weight would be given to a 17-year-old’s preferences than a 12-year-old’s if all other things are equal), and more. It is about more than just preference, and the judge must ensure that the decision is ultimately in the best interest of the child.
Is your child interested in living with you rather than the custodial parent? We can help you prepare to move forward. Call The Blacknall Firm today at 214-678-9111 to schedule a consultation.