If you’re seeking custody of your child, in some cases judges may look to your kids to ask them which parent they’d like to reside with more.
Whether a child will be called upon to testify at their own child custody hearing about their preferences largely depends on their level of maturity and age, although those aren’t the only factors. How well he or she appears to be able to make informed decisions and articulate his or her feelings will play a role in whether his or her testimony is considered too.
A judge may also seek out a child’s testimony or spend more time considering the child’s interests if it’s been shown that one of his or her parents has a history of domestic violence. If it’s been documented that the child has witnessed violence between his or her parents or was victimized him or herself, then it’s likely that could impact the final custody decision.
If it can be demonstrated to a family court judge that a child has had little to no contact with their other parent who is seeking custody of them, then a guardian ad litem may be appointed to represent the child’s interests. In cases in which a guardian ad litem is appointed, his or her role is to serve as an advocate for preferences of the child.
Barring instances of abuse, judges will generally give estranged parents an opportunity to get to know and develop a relationship with their child though.
In some cases in which there are other siblings in the home, a child’s relationship with them may shape custody proceedings. If a child, for example, is particularly attached to one of their siblings, they may be able to testify about that fact. In listening to his or her testimony, it’s possible that a judge may be swayed into ordering custody more toward one parent than another.
If you’re involved in a dispute with your child’s other parent and you want to gain a better understanding as to ways you may be able to strengthen your case, then a Houston child custody attorney can help.
Source: The Spruce, “Considering the child’s wishes when determining child custody,” Debrina Washington, accessed Oct. 27, 2017