Child custody is one of the most challenging aspects of divorce and legal separation cases. When breaking off a marriage, it is normal to wonder which parent will get custody of the child. Another question many divorcing couples ask is whether their child can choose which parent to live with. The laws differ from state to state, and if you want answers to these questions, you should get legal help.
What factors does the court consider when deciding custody?
The court always considers the best interests of the child when deciding custody. Some factors that are considered when deciding on child custody are:
- The parents’ work schedules and financial situations
- The stability of the parents’ households
- The wishes of the child’s parents
- The relationship of the child with each parent
- The parents’ history of caregiving for the child
- The health and safety of the child and each parent
- The ability of each parent to provide the needed resources
- The ability of the parents to meet the child’s current and future needs
- Each parent’s history of drug and alcohol use
- The parent’s history of domestic violence or child abuse
- How the child adjusts to the school and community, and the potential effects of any change
- Where each parent lives
- The ability of each parent to have a positive relationship with the other parent
- The child’s relationship with any other person that may significantly impact the child
- Where the child’s friends and family members live
How old must a child be to have a say?
Most states have an age requirement that a child needs to meet to voice their preferences on who they want to live with. In most states, children who are 14 or older can present their preferences to the judge. In some states, the age requirement is 12 or older, while in other states, children as young as nine can have a say in who they want to live with. In cases where custody is being decided for multiple children, the older child’s preference may be valued more than the younger child’s preference. This is because they are much more mature and can better decide which parent should be granted primary custody.
Consult an attorney today.
If you are fighting a child custody battle, you need the best kind of legal help on your side. Reach out to an experienced family law attorney who can guide you on what steps to take and help you avoid mistakes.