Can children choose which parent they live with?

Child custody cases are difficult to predict due to the number of variables. No two cases are exactly alike, primarily because no two situations are the same. There are times when you might hear that the children will get to choose what parent to reside with during and after a divorce, but is this true in every case?

While the court may weigh the wishes of the children when determining physical custody in California, do not count on a judge always granting those requests.

Rectifying what is best versus what a child wants

When it comes to determining where a child will reside, the court must consider what is in the best interest of the child. Many factors go into this determination. School districts, extracurricular activities and religious worship all factor into the court’s decision of what is best.

One parent can build bridges

If one parent is more likely to foster a nurturing relationship with the other, he or she may win majority physical custody. Judges do not look kindly on parents who manipulate children into cutting ties or having strained relations with the other parent. Instead, parents who encourage visitation and positive interaction fare better in court.

Manipulation can taint a child’s wishes

If a judge meets with a child who wants to choose one parent over the other, there is usually some further investigation needed. First, a judge will want to ensure that the child did not receive a bribe or influence from either party to make the decision. Second, the judge may order psychological examinations of the child and the parents to ensure no mental issues are coming in to play.

Children can make their wishes known throughout a custody case, but there is no guarantee they will get what they want. If you want to give your child the best possible experience, hold the other parent in high regard and model positive behavior. Even if your child does not always agree with you, at least you can have a clear conscious at the end of the proceedings.