Children’s Preferences in Custody Cases

Sometimes, a child’s preference is one of the factors considered by the court in determining custody. In Civil Code Article 134, a child’s preference is listed as a factor, but it is not necessarily given a lot of weight and is not decisive.

The older the child is, the more weight it will be given. The court won’t really consider the preference of a child that is under 12 years old, as a general rule. If the parties want the court to consider the child’s preference, the child will be interviewed in chambers privately by the judge without the parties present. The attorneys can be there, but not the parties.

The judge will just ask the child questions and, depending upon the child’s reasoning, the court may give their preference more or less weight. For example, it the child says, “Yes, I want to be with my daddy because he let’s me stay up late at night and lets me play video games all day,” the judge might not give that a lot of weight.

Sometimes mental health professionals will be used instead before you go to court. Maybe the child will be interviewed by a counselor and then the report would be used and considered by the judge.

I do not like to bring children into court. Children should not be put in a position where they feel like they are having to choose between Mommy and Daddy. Unless it is an extreme situation, I do not feel like it is a good idea to involve them, but now you know how it works if they do need to be involved.

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