Maricopa County Court » choose parent to live with Sat, 18 Dec 2010 01:07:20 +0000 en hourly 1 Child Custody – When Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With? /maricopa-county-courts/family-court/child-custody-when-can-a-child-decide-which-parent-to-live-with/ /maricopa-county-courts/family-court/child-custody-when-can-a-child-decide-which-parent-to-live-with/#comments Tue, 26 Oct 2010 15:59:47 +0000 Maricopa County Court /?p=67660 By Steven Carlson -

There is typically no specific age when a child can decide which parent he/she wants to live with. It is generally up to the court or a judge to decide, not the child having to choose which parent to live with, if parents do not agree on custody and visitation and usually depends on the age and maturity of the child and specific circumstances of the case. Generally, the older and more mature the child is the more likely the court will listen to his/her wishes and the more weight given to his/her choice.

In California for example, if the child is determined by the court to be of “sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to custody, the court shall consider and give due weight to the wishes of the child in making an order granting or modifying custody” (California Family Code Section 3042(a)). The reasons for the child’s wishes will also be an important factor and should be heavily scrutinized.

Also, the court typically has discretionary authority and control over the examination of the child as a witness and can preclude him/her from being called as a witness by either party if the court finds calling the child as a witness would not be in his/her best interests. The court could and may dictate or provide indirect or a different means of obtaining information regarding the child’s preference on which parent to live with as an alternative so as to protect the child’s best interests and not make him/her directly part of the matter. Generally, putting a minor child in the middle of a child custody dispute by having to choose between his/her parents is something no court or judge wants to do.

The overall best interests of the child is the standard for custody determinations and modifications in California (California Family Code Section 3040) and generally the standard for most all states. The child’s preference is generally only one of many factors the court may take into consideration and weighed against all other factors in an order of preference to determine the overall best interest of the child. For legal advice about your situation and laws in your state regarding when can a child decide which parent to live with you’ll want to consult a child custody lawyer in your area.

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Child Custody Coachâ„¢ supplies information and one-on-one help to parents in the field of child custody and visitation issues, divorce, child custody evaluations, parenting and all divorce and custody related issues including a child’s custody preference. Steven Carlson, The Custody Coachâ„¢ is the author of the winning child custody guide “How to Win Child Custody: Proven Strategies that can Win You Custody & Save You Thousands in Attorney Costs!

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