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Do kids have a say in a custody arrangement?

On Behalf of | Jul 15, 2020 | Firm News |

When it’s time to have the difficult talk with your kids to reveal you and their other parent are getting a divorce, dozens of questions are bound to come up. One of the worries you may have the most trouble addressing immediately is which parent the kids will live with.

Custodial parenting and scheduling isn’t always contested by the adults, but children in the family may be the ones who are unsatisfied with the final arrangement. This leads some divorcing couples to question how much they should bring their kids’ opinions into the courtroom.

The laws are different state by state

In some locations, a child’s custodial preference must be taken into consideration during the decision-making process, but only once they’ve reached a certain age. In these scenarios, the child may be able to outright choose which parent acts as the custodial parent. Otherwise, they may petition the court to have the custody arrangement changed.

The court must decide whether this adjustment is in the child’s best interest, and may reject the petition on the grounds that the preferred custodial parent is not fit for the role. This may occur in instances of substance abuse, mental or financial instability, or if the parent otherwise lives an unstable lifestyle.

Other factors may be taken into consideration as well, including geographical location, employment status, how the change in custody could affect schedules for both parents and any other siblings, and whether it could alter any support payments or financial assistance.

Settling outside of court is more common

While the courts do see petitions from children seeking a custody revision, it’s infrequent. What’s more common is a child making the request and the parents striking an agreement through mediation, then making it official after the negotiating is complete.

It’s critical to consider your child’s perspective after a divorce. Although the ultimate decision may not be their most preferred choice, their voice should still be heard.