If you are ending your marriage, your primary concern may be your relationship with your kids. Still, whether you and your spouse are able to reach an acceptable custody arrangement, your children are likely to have some opinions about where they want to live.
In California, judges make custody determinations based upon what is in the best interests of the children. When considering this legal standard, judges sometimes entertain the wishes of the kids.
Children over 14
California law expressly allows children over the age of 14 to express an opinion about custody. Consequently, if you have an older teenager, you can probably expect the judge to ask him or her to testify. The judge is likely to consider your young one’s opinion when evaluating which custody arrangement is in his or her best interests.
Children under 14
Even though the law may not explicitly permit children under the age of 14 to state their opinions about custody-related matters, there is nothing to prevent a younger child from making his or her wishes clear.
If a judge decides it is in the child’s best interests, the judge may ask a child under the age of 14 to testify. Alternatively, a judge may ask a custody evaluator to meet with a young child to gauge his or her opinions about proposed custody arrangements.
Ultimately, because custody decisions affect their lives, children of any age may want to express an opinion. While the wishes of your children are likely to be only part of a judge’s custody determination, you may want to prepare yourself for what your kids may say.