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Child's Preference As A Factor In Custody Decisions

In a custody dispute, parents often wonder what impact the child's preference has, and should have, in the Judge's custody decision.  This week's blog will examine how the child's preference influences the outcome of the typical custody case. 


If a child clearly expresses a preference to the parents, the parents may decide to honor the child's request.  Often, this is a wise course of action, and can show support for a child who generally makes good decisions.  If there are no safety issues and the parents live close to each other, honoring the child's request can build, rather than burn, bridges with the child.  If the parents agree to a custody arrangement that is based on a child's desire, the child may feel respected and valued.  However, parents should be careful not to allow the child to manipulate the parents into getting what the child wants.  Ultimately, the parents must consider what is truly in the child's best interest, even if that is contrary to the child's desire.


Contrary to popular belief, Texas law does not give a child the right to decide which parent to live with.   The Judge ultimately decides where the child lives with, based on many factors.  The child's preference is only one of many factors.  However, the older the child, the more weight most Judges give to the child's preference.  

can the child talk to the judge?

Texas law provides that, upon request of either parent in a custody case, the Judge is required to interview a child age 12 or older.  If the child is younger than age 12, the Judge has discretion whether to interview the child or not.  Typically, Judges will not interview young children under the age of 8.   Children that are typically interviewed by the Judge are interviewed in the Judge's office, without either parent present and without any attorneys present.  

If you're involved in a custody dispute, you don't have to go through the journey without help.  Parents need quality legal representation to advocate for their rights and ensure that the child is happy, safe and well-adjusted.  Christiansen Law Firm partners with parents to secure favorable outcomes in custody disputes.  The family law attorneys of Christiansen Law Firm have extensive experience in custody disputes, and can assist you in your dispute.  Contact the offices of Christiansen Law Firm in San Antonio or Houston to arrange a free consultation at a convenient time. 

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