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Child's Wishes in a Custody Dispute

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What Does a Court Take into Consideration When Awarding Child Custody?

When awarding child custody and care of a marriage, a court should take into consideration all the circumstances of each particular case. The court attempts to accomodate the best environment in order to secure proper care and attention as well as education for the child. Ultimately, the court will always make a decision based on the best interests of the child

In Awarding Custody, Does a Court Take into Consideration a Child's Wishes?

In order for the court to give a child's wishes weight in making the decision, the child must be sufficiently mature to be able to formulate and express a reliable opinion and request as to his/her custody. Although the child's opinion will not be the controlling factor, it may be considered by the court in determining custody in some circumstances. 

Are There Ever Any Cases Where the Court Must Follow the Child's Request?

Some jurisdictions have specific statutes regarding the child's wishes in determining custody rights. Many jurisdictions have adopted statutes that declare when a child reaches a particular age, the child must be allowed to choose their custodian. If the jurisdiction has not yet established such a statute, then the court is able to use the child's request at its discretion. 

Why Not Grant Custody to the Parent of the Child's Choice?

Courts have to make decisions based on the best interests of the child ensuring a safe and secure environment. A child's wishes may be disregarded by a court if the person chosen to take custody is unfit to be guardian due to:

  • Moral depravity
  • Habitual drunkenness

Another reason the child's wishes may be ignored is if the Court determines the child is not old enough to make his/her own custody decision. 

Do I Need an Attorney to Facilitate the Child Custody Procedure?

The Court can take into consideration a number of different factors that affect a child's environment.  In some circumstances, a child's wishes may influence a court's decision in granting custody.  A skilled family attorney will be able to assist you in presenting your case and instruct you on children laws in your area.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 08-10-2015 11:51 AM PDT

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