Top Divorce Lawyers
We often get questions from parents asking when their child will have a say in court matters. Below are answers to our frequently asked questions regarding the child’s ability to express their desire in court.
What age does my child have to be to decide where they want to live?
In Texas, children 12 years of age and above can tell the judge where they want to live, but the judge does not have to follow the child’s wishes. Many parents assume that the child has the final say and often express that thought process to the child. This is inherently wrong and should not be expressed to the child. Children who are closer in age to 18 will have more say than those closer to 12.
Is it true that a child 12 years of age or older can decide which parent has primary custody?
No. Years ago the Texas Family Code allowed a child age 12 or older to sign a form expressing which parent the child wanted to primarily live with. The Texas Family Code now allows a child 12 years of age or older to express their desire in chambers with the judge. Judges also have the discretion to interview a child under age 12 with regards to whom the child wants to live with.
Can I be present when the Judge interviews my child?
No. Quite often the only people present in the interview are the child and the judge. The judge has the ability to decide if attorneys will be present in the interview but in many cases the attorneys are not present in the interview. Parties also have the ability to request a court reporter be present to record the interview between the judge and child.
What does the judge look for when deciding who my child lives with?
Many judges want to know why the child is deciding the way they are. Children have varying levels of maturity and intelligence. Some like a certain parent because they are the fun parent. Some dislike a parent because they are made to study, clean, and show respect. Judges will assess the situation and decide which household situation is best for the child.
Is it possible to have my child decide which days he/she wants to see the other parent?
In Texas, there is no law that gives the child a role in determining which days they want to be with the other parent. A child can express their wishes to the judge in chambers however, the decision will rest with the judge.
If you or anyone you know has questions pertaining to family law or wishes to have a free 30-minute consultation, please contact an Arlington family lawyer at the Brandy Austin Law Firm. Our attorneys are experienced in handling all types of family law cases including divorce, custody, adoptions and child support.
Thank you for our friends and contributors at Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC for their insight into child custody and family law.