Child custody disputes are some of the most common questions we get from potential clients. Often both parents genuinely want what THEY believe is in the best interest of the child. But what happens when the child being fought about gets a say in which parent the child wants to live with? This article will focus on what happens in Texas when a child gets to the age that they can have input in determining who they live with.
How much does a child’s wishes matter?
First it is important to understand that a child’s decision on which parent to live with is not a binding decision on any court in Texas. It is, however, a factor a court will consider. In Texas, a child’s decision cannot be the sole factor in determining which parent the child lives with. But, once the child reaches the age of 12, and if the proper procedures are followed, the court can consider the child’s wishes as to whom he or she wishes to live with.
What age does a child have to be?
Children cannot truly decide which parent they want to live with until they are 18 years old.. Under Texas Family Code 153.009, parents can request that the judge speak with their child. If the child is aged 12 or older, the judge must meet with the child. If the child is not 12, the judge isn’t required to meet with the child.
What should parents keep in mind?
Parents should understand that while a request for an interview between the judge and a child may be granted, the interview is evidence that the court may use to make a decision. The judge is ultimately the one who makes the decision regarding custody in contested situations dealing with possession or access; the law does not require that the judge follow the child’s wishes. Also, children are unpredictable. Judges are adept at getting to the truth of a situation, and a parent who thinks that the child is on their “side” may end up telling the judge some less than favorable things that otherwise would have gone unknown.
Disclaimer: The legal information presented herein should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. General advice should always be tested by the particular facts and circumstances of each case. Legal advice is almost always case specific. Statues, ordinances, legal procedures, case law and rules of evidence are often revised.