father watching daughter washing hands at sink

Can a Child’s Wishes Influence a Custody Decision?

There can be a lot of uncertainty and worry in a divorce. It’s difficult to predict the outcome of things, no matter how reasonable your child custody attorney is. Therefore, before moving forward, you always want to arm yourself with as much knowledge of the law as possible.

There is much confusion about how a court determines child custody. If, for instance, a child chooses one parent over the other, will they automatically go with the parent they chose?

In this article, we will broadly discuss the issue of a child’s choice in a custody decision.

A Child’s Desires Are Just Part of a Whole

Courts make custody decisions based on a child’s best interests. The court will pay attention if a child prefers to live with one parent over another. However, it will also consider many other factors.

Child custody decisions can also include:

  • Each parent’s income
  • Each parent’s neighborhood
  • Each parent’s education level
  • The living conditions of each home
  • Each parent’s overall parenting skills
  • The amount of time each parent can devote to the kids
  • Each parent’s outside support system (friends, family, neighbors, etc.)
  • And much more

The Court Makes the Decisions

Ultimately, a family court judge makes the final ruling on a child custody decision. A child cannot simply demand to live with one parent or another and immediately get what they want.

Imagine that a child wants to live with Parent A. Parent A must make a case that living with them is in the child’s best interests. Conversely, Parent B can counter that claim. Family court is not that much different from any other. You still need evidence, witnesses, and so on to prove your case.

Judges look beyond the child’s immediate claims. They try to weigh the situation and understand the child’s overall maturity. For instance, a child may simply be angry about the divorce. They may blame one parent and, lashing out, claim they would rather live with the other. A good judge can see through a situation like this, and they will impose a better solution onto the child if necessary.

Making Compromises

You should also be working in your child’s best interests. Imagine you are in the scenario outlined above. Your child is angry and lashing out, trying to stay with their other parent.

Depending on the situation, it may be best to back off for now and let this happen. Remember, your child’s emotional state contributes to overall health and success.

You can change a child custody agreement later. After the child has had time to cool off and you’ve had time to repair the relationship, you can request a custody modification.

Fighting for What’s Best

Sometimes, however, you must stay strong, not taking “no” for an answer. Perhaps the other parent has turned the child against you, or you know that if they receive primary custody, they will not be the best parent to your child.

In these cases, you must build a strong case in your favor. Work closely with your attorney, collect the best evidence to support your claims, and don’t give up the fight when you know what is best for your child.

Our firm is here to help with all your child custody matters. You can schedule a free consultation with us online or call us at (516) 514-3868.