Does your child’s preference matter during custody proceedings?

On Behalf of | Jan 23, 2021 | Firm News

Custody arrangements often become the central point of contention in a divorce. You and your spouse may want very different terms. If you can’t agree, the family law judge presiding over your case will have to consider many different factors when they set the terms for custody for your family.

Usually, the focus is on the child’s best interests, which means sharing parental responsibilities. Does a child get to have a say in the custody decision?

There is no specific age at which a child can influence custody terms

A child’s preferences can be one of the factors that a judge considers when setting the terms for a parenting plan during a Virginia divorce. However, a child’s wishes only have a bearing on the matter if the judge determines that they are of sufficient age and maturity to make a sound decision.

Understanding the reasoning for the child’s wishes can also influence how much weight a judge gives them in making their decision. If a child says they would like to spend more time with one parent because that parent has better video game systems, a judge will consider that less than statements that one parent largely ignores them or makes them feel bad about themselves. Children don’t always have wishes that align with what is ultimately best for themselves.

While your child’s wishes can sometimes influence custody decisions, telling them they need to talk to a judge can sometimes make divorce harder for them. You may want to strategize for the custody terms you’d prefer with your attorney without directly involving your kids if possible.