Does My Child Have The Right To Tell The Judge Which Parent She Wants To Live With?
Today’s question comes to us from Sandra. She wants to know if her child has the right to tell the judge which parent she wants to live with.
Sandra has a 13-year-old daughter who refuses to go be with her father and has told her mom that she wants to live with her and her only. Sandra’s asking me is… Can the judge listen to my daughter? Can the judge give my daughter what she wants?
The answer to this is maybe, possibly, depending. I know this is a very attorney answer, but that is how it goes with this question. The courts are very hesitant to involve children when it comes to custody issues. They don’t want to put children in between the parents’ fight for custody, which makes sense. They wanna protect the rights of the children. They want to make sure that whatever is done in a custody battle is in the best interest of the children.
However, there is sometimes a situation like this when the court decides that the child needs to be interviewed. The court will interview the child to ask what their preference is. Although the judge is looking for the child’s input, it is not the only factor that is considered when deciding about custody.
When the court decides to interview the children or the child, it may do it in these ways:
- By directly testifying on the stand, putting the child on the stand during the evidentiary hearing, that’s one way to do it.
- By being interviewed by the judge in the presence of the attorneys, not the parents.
- By having the attorneys interview the child in the presence of the judge, without the parents present. And, the judge sometimes sends the children to a third party person to be interviewed.
These are the many different ways that the court can order a child to be interviewed. Once the interview has been completed, a report is given to the court. If a third party does it, or the judge may decide, based on the interview and based on the what is in the best interest of that particular child during that specific interview, to let the parents or the attorneys watch the interview, or share the report with the parents as well as the attorneys.
It just depends. Everything is case by case. The most important thing, again, to the court, is the best interest of the child. So, yes, your child can tell the judge what their preference is when it comes to custody and whom they wish to live with. However, remember, that it is not the end all be all of what the child wants that the court is going to follow. The court will make a decision based on the age of the child, the maturity level, and on the particular circumstances of that specific case.
Sandra, I hope this answers your question. If you wanna discuss this further, please go to vegasdivorcemeeting.com. I’ll be more than happy to sit down with you to discuss this further.
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