Only 11% of custody cases were decided during mediation with as few as 5% being decided after court order custody evaluations. With such confusion, it’s important to know when can a child choose which parent to live with, and how is that decided.
Read on to learn about navigating through a custody battle and your child’s choice.
Historical Child Custody
Historically, when it came to divorce, Americans followed traditional English common law. This meant that fathers automatically received physical custody of the children along with and labor and earnings of his children.
In return for these rights, the father was responsible for providing support, care, education, and training to become adults. Today, mothers are entitled to the same rights as the father, and a number of factors are taken into consideration to determine who the children reside with. In some cases, the child’s preference of who they want to live with may also be taken into consideration.
Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With?
While a child may not automatically get to choose whose custody they fall under, in many cases their preference will be taken into account. In most courts, the judge will try to avoid the involvement of the child as much as possible.
Child investigators may be involved if certain circumstances such as substance or physical abuse are called into question. However, in the event that both parents are equally entitled to custody, the choice may come down to the child, assuming the child falls under the right criteria.
How much weight a child’s preference has depends largely on the criteria of the court. Some factors that may be taken into consideration by the court are:
- What is the child’s reasoning for wanting to live with a specific parent?
- How stable and consistent is the parent the child wishes to reside with?
- How emotionally and intellectually mature is the child?
- Does one or both parents support the child’s decision?
- Is there any evidence that the child’s choice is the best option for the interest of the child?
- How will the move affect the children’s relationship with other family? School? Community?
The Psychology Behind the Choice
While most parents will try to keep their children out of the decision-making process, there has been some research that has shown that allowing the child to choose is better psychologically for them.
While we all know divorce does play a major factor in children’s mental health, studies have shown that the negative effects of divorce can be reduced if the child has a say on where they choose to go. This is due to the fact that many of the negative feelings a child experiences during their parents’ divorce comes from feeling out of control or not having a say in such a drastic change.
Taking the Right Steps for Your Family
If you’re like most parents, your biggest priority is knowing that your children will be well cared for. This means it’s vital to know when can a child choose which parent to live with and how to prepare for it.
No matter what outcome you’re looking for, contact us today for help creating the best situation for you and your family.