Does the Child’s Preference Factor into a Court’s Decision When It Comes to Child Custody?
If you are currently in a custody dispute with your former spouse, you may wonder whether or not your child’s preference factors into the court’s decision to award custody to one spouse or the other. Is a child allowed to tell the court which parent they would prefer to live with? The answer is that it depends on the circumstances, the age of the child, and other factors related to the case. In this article, the Philadelphia child custody lawyers at the Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane will discuss child custody cases and when a child is allowed to discuss their preference for residency in court.
Will the court consider my child’s preference for residency?
A family court judge will weigh the child’s preference when it comes to who they live with or which party has primary custody of the child. How much weight the judge places on the child’s preference will depend on the age and maturity level of the child.
A child is not considered an adult until they reach the age of 18 and graduate from high school. This means that the child has no control over which parent they will live with after the divorce is finalized. The court will make that decision. The court will, however, take a child’s preference into consideration as one of the many factors that it considers when deciding issues related to the children. The Pennsylvania courts do not “set an age” when it comes to weighing the child’s decision. However, more credence is given to older children who state a preference to live with one parent or the other.
The court operates under the opinion that the older a child is, the more intelligent and informed their decisions are. The court will not only consider the wishes of the child, but the reasons that they want to reside with one parent or the other. In other words, the child’s decision must be based on good reasons that the court considers mature and well-grounded. Courts are more likely to accept a child’s decision when it is based on mature reasoning as opposed to petty disputes or that the child faces more discipline with one spouse than the other. The preference of a child who decides out of anger, resentment, or the belief that they will be rewarded for making such a choice will not be considered grounds for where the child lives.
A child’s preference is further never the sole determining factor in where the child will live. It can, however, tip the scales in favor of one spouse or the other when the individual households are equally suitable for raising the child.
The bottom line is that the court will consider the wishes of the child in where they reside, but other factors tend to be weighted heavier.
Talk to a Philadelphia Family Law Attorney Today
The Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane represent the interests of parents who are deciding child custody issues in divorce. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin discussing custody arrangements right away.