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When Can My Child Choose to Live With Me in Texas?

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TX familiy lawyerAs children of divorced or never-married parents get older and gain a greater understanding of their relationship with their parents and the world around them, they often develop strong opinions about which parent they want to be with all or most of the time. When the parents agree with the child’s preferences and with each other on a parenting arrangement, making a new custody order is fairly simple.

But when parents disagree with each other about child visitation, or if a child has preferences with which one or both parents disagree, a Texas family court may have to intervene and decide what arrangement would be in the child’s best interests. If you are interested in pursuing sole custody (or sole conservatorship, as it is legally known), you may want the help of an experienced family lawyer who can help you explore your and your child’s options.

When Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With?

A child can never independently decide which parent they want to live with until they are 18. This may seem unfair, especially if the child is mature and independent, but that is the law. However, beginning at age 12, children can have a larger say in where they live - although a judge will be the person who ultimately makes a decision about, or approves of, parenting arrangements. Children also cannot decide to refuse visitation with one parent until they are 18 because, like parents, children are legally obligated to follow existing custody orders.

How Can I Try to Get Full Custody of My Child?

If you want to change an existing custody order, you will need to file a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship, or SAPCR. This allows you to make a case in front of a judge that your child wants to live with you and that it would be in the child’s best interests to do so. You can ask a judge to speak privately with the child and get their opinion firsthand; if the child is over 12 years old, the judge is obligated to speak with them.

It is important to understand that the child’s testimony, your evidence, the other parent’s evidence, and everyone’s preferences are not predictive of a judge’s final decision. A judge will review the case and decide according to the arrangement that he or she feels is in a child’s best interests.

Meet with a Dallas Family Lawyer

Even if you and your child agree that your home is the best place for your child, you will still need to follow the proper avenues to try to get full conservatorship and possession and access. If you want to file a SAPCR for any reason, having the help of an experienced Fort Worth child custody attorney with Clark Law Group can strengthen your case. We can assist you in building a strong case for why your child should live with you and help make your dreams become a reality. Call us now at 469-906-2266 to schedule a consultation.




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