Can A Child Choose Which Parent They Want To Live With After A Divorce?
This is one of the most common questions that I get asked by parents in nearly every child custody case. They want to know if their children’s voices can be heard by the judge in regards to the preference of who the child wants to live with. What I tell parents is that in Nevada court cases dealing with children, the courts always look to what is in the best interest of the children, bottom line. However, a child’s best interest does not necessarily simply mean the child’s preference. Though their preference may be considered, a judge includes many factors into what they perceive as the child’s best interest.
There is no age for when a child’s opinion must be factored into a custody ruling, instead judges will include or disregard a child’s wishes into their ruling, based on the child’s age and level of maturity. Is that child able to clearly express rational reasoning for why they feel like they want to live with one parent over the other?
Children are usually kept out of custody battles as much as possible and they are rarely made to testify in court as this can put the child in a very precautious situation, feeling guilt and stress as to choosing one parent over the other. In situations where the court wants to hear the child’s preferences, the judge can either personally interview the child or they can choose child professionals such as social workers, guardian ad litem or a therapist to sit down and interview the child and to listen to their preferences and the reasons why. That special professional will then report back to the court.
So remember that just because a child may have a say in the custody case it is not a single deciding factor. The judge will look at many factors to determine what the best interest of that child will be in deciding where to place the custody of that child.
If you are considering divorce or approaching a custody hearing, do not hesitate to contact our office to speak with an experienced family law attorney. Schedule a consultation for the opportunity to discus your specific situation in more detail. To reach out office contact us at (702) 998-1188, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by scheduling a consultation online.