In a child custody hearing, the court will usually make various decisions that can affect the child’s upbringing. These decisions can include issues such as the type of custody (joint, split, etc.), child visitation schedules, child support, and other issues. In most cases, the court will collaborate with the parent of the child to reach conclusions. They will usually hear input from the parent and may often base their decision on the parent’s requests or suggestions.

However, in some cases, the child is also allowed make custody decisions during a court proceeding. The child’s wishes in a custody dispute may be considered if:

  • The child is capable of making informed legal decisions
  • The child is of a certain age (this may vary by jurisdiction)
  • There is a statute in place that allows children to make such decisions

This type of arrangement is often allowed only under special circumstances, such as when one parent is deemed unfit for guardianship of the child. Sometimes these conditions may be fulfilled later on when the child gets older, in which case the child might be able to help modify an existing custody order.

Can the Court Disregard a Minor’s Preferences?

On the other hand, the court can sometimes disregard the preferences of the child or children when formulating a child custody order. The most common reason is if the child is not old enough to make legal decisions. Or, if the child has a medical or psychiatric condition that affects their decision-making capacity, the court may often base their decisions on factors other than the child’s preferences and wishes.

What Is the "Child’s Best Interest Standard"?

In any child custody, visitation, or support hearing, the court will always make their decisions based on the child’s best interest standards. This means that the court will only make decisions that serve to benefit the child in terms of their physical, mental, emotional, social, and academic upbringing. Even the parent’s wishes can sometimes be disregarded if their desires don’t conform to the child’s best interest standard.

This means that even if the child is capable of making their own decisions with regards to child custody, the court will still need to weigh their preferences against the best interests standard. For example, the court will not place the child with a parent that they have requested if that parent is deemed morally unfit, abusive, or has a history of substance abuse.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Child Custody Issues?

Child custody hearings generally require the assistance of a qualified family law attorney. You may wish to hire a child custody lawyer in your area if you have any questions about child custody or if you need a lawyer to represent you in court. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice to help you with your case, and can also keep you updated regarding any changes to the child custody laws in your area. You may consider reading this article How much a child custody lawyer cost