If you and your spouse have divorced and have a child, he or she can make their preference for custodial parent known. Beginning at age 12, your child has the right to request an interview with a judge to determine if a change in custody is warranted. Prior to 2009, this process began with an affidavit of preference and the child could essentially determine who they wanted to live with from that point.
Today, the situation is different, but the child’s preferences do carry weight. It is important to understand the interview process that your child will go through during this time.
Where Is the Interview Held?
The interview will take place in the judge’s chambers. That is, it will be held privately, and will not take place in a courtroom or in one of the parent’s homes. The judge can determine where he or she would prefer the interview to be held if their office is not usable. The point of the interview is to determine the child’s desires in regard to where they wish to live and which parent should have primary custody, as well as other things, such as visitation with the noncustodial parent, or issues that may be affecting the child’s preferences in terms of custody.
Does My Child Have to Go through the Interview?
If your child is 12 years old or older, the interview is mandatory. Note that this is the case during a divorce, as well. It does not apply solely to changing custody after a divorce. Prior to age 12, the interview is at the discretion of the court.
Am I Allowed to Be Present?
In most cases, the judge will interview your child alone, or with counsel. You and/or your spouse may be present, but that is completely at the judge’s discretion. If there is an attorney representing the child, then that attorney will certainly be present. However, if the child is 12 or older and you or another party in the suit deem it necessary, the interview will be transcribed so you know what is said.
Is the Interview the End of the Process?
Simply put, no. Your child’s preferences will certainly carry weight with the court – potentially a lot of weight. However, other factors will also be considered, including the opinions of the child’s therapist, teachers, friends, and other family members.
Struggling with custody-related issues? We can help. Contact The Blacknall Firm today at 214-678-9111 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.