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Do Children Get a Say in Texas Custody Matters?

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TX family lawyerChild custody proceedings can be difficult for the children involved. Some will have a strong preference regarding which parent they would like to live with, while others may be reluctant to express a preference. While Texas courts may consider the preferences of children in limited ways, the state does not allow minors to make their own decisions regarding custody. The court will, however, carefully consider the child’s best interests before making any custody determination. A qualified child custody attorney can offer you more specific advice regarding your particular situation, as there are a lot of variables at play.

Why Are Children Not Allowed to Choose?

Children may not be able to make the best decisions for themselves regarding where to live and with whom. Often, a child will select the “fun” parent who is more permissive or the parent who gives them a better allowance. Children may also be easily bribed, and it is not uncommon for parents in divorce cases to do exactly this. Courts want to make sure that the child lives with the parent who it is in their best interest to live with - and this may not be the parent with who the child asks to live.

How Can a Court Consider a Child’s Opinion?

If the child is over the age of 12 years old, one or both parents can submit a request for the child to speak to the judge regarding custody matters, and the request must be granted. If the child is under 12 years old, a parent can still submit a request, but the judge may grant it only at his discretion. Neither parent will be permitted to be present for this conversation, which takes place in the privacy of the judge’s chambers.

The judge can then ask the child about her wishes and preferences regarding who to live with and what type of visitation schedule she would like. Any other issues regarding custody can be discussed. If a child is fearful of one parent, for example, that fact is likely to come out in this interview. The reasons for the child’s request are likely to be discussed in order to help the judge determine whether going along with the child’s preference is truly in her best interest.

What Else Will the Court Consider?

The court will consider the child’s preferences as only one factor in its ultimate decision. The entirety of the circumstances must still be examined. Witnesses, like the children’s teachers, counselors, or daycare providers may be called. Each parent’s ability to provide a suitable environment for the child will be important. Courts may also be reluctant to unnecessarily uproot children from their schools and extracurricular activities if giving one parent primary custody would involve a significant move.

Contact a Texas Child Custody Attorney

The uncertainty of child custody proceedings can be difficult for all involved. Having a skilled Dallas child custody lawyer to advocate for you and keep you informed at every step can help. Clark Law Group is committed to guiding parents and children through custody proceedings to achieve a positive outcome. Call us at 469-906-2266 for a confidential consultation.



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