Can Children Influence Custody Determinations?

Another factor that we’re going to talk about is the child’s preference. We get asked this question all the time. “My child will definitely say that he wants to stay with me, he doesn’t like his father, he has a bad time when he goes to Dad’s house.” We hear our clients explain this to us all the time. And so, what I’ll do is tell you kind of how the Judges approach this. So we don’t have any law that says that the child’s testimony can be heard at a specific age, or when the child’s preference will matter. Judges are given complete discretion when it comes to the child’s preference. What we have seen is that around ages 10 to 12 is when the Judges start to become more inclined to give some weight to that child’s testimony. And that’s not to say that whatever your child says goes, with regard to custody. But the Judges will actually at 10 to 12, that’s when they believe that a child can start to make a more mature decision. And that’s when the child is going to have– That’s when the child’s testimony may become a little bit more important. It’s going to really hinge on the credibility of the child, and their ability to make a mature decision. So, and again, it’s never going to be the dis-positive factor. It’s never going to be that your child’s testimony alone is enough to completely cut off the other parent’s custodial rights, or to make a huge impact on the case. Again, it’s another one of these factors that the Judge is going to consider.

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