If you are currently undergoing court proceedings to determine the custody of a child, there are many factors the courts will examine when deciding the outcome.
Other than the wellness and capability to provide for the child, a significant factor is the child’s parental preference, as long as there is no history of abuse or neglect. Although there are no hard and fast laws in every single state, some states have recently begun to regard the child’s opinion with a lot more weight when it comes to the discussion of child custody.
When does this NOT apply?
First and foremost, courts will not look favorably on a parent that is attempting to coerce the child into picking a side during a child custody case. Any strong-arming or employment of guilt in the changing of the child’s mind will not be tolerated. If there is any evidence of this kind of coercion going on, then the court will ultimately dismiss the child’s opinion and will not look favorably on the offending parent. Equally, if the child is using the child custody case as a means to rebel or to lash out at a parent, then the court will deem that the child does not have their own best interests at heart or does not fully understand the situation.
When it DOES apply
Not all states have laws that specifically rule that the child can make the decision, as in some states where the child can decide once they reach the age of 14, many have laws that seek to determine whether or not the child is intellectually fit to make the decision. If the courts believe that the child fully understands the situation at hand and can accurately weigh up the benefits of living with each parent, the court will consider the child’s preference when deciding the child custody case.
The child’s age will have a lot to do with the final value that the courts apply to the child’s opinion, becoming far more lenient as the child ages.
Other factors that the courts will use to help inform their decision about who the most suitable parent is to win the child custody case is observing the bond that the child has with each parent. In combination with this, the court will want to see that even if you are the preferred parent, that you have the child’s best interests at heart to the point that you will not stand between the child and the non-custodial parent who has a healthy and normal relationship.