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Can a Judge Consider a Child’s Age When Making Custody Decisions?

During the process of separation or divorce, a decision must be reached on who should have custody of a child when the parents are no longer living together.  Parents should try, whenever possible, to assess their own family situation and the needs of their child and to make an informed choice about how to divide parenting responsibilities.  If parents are not able to create a parenting agreement dictating how custody will be shared, a family court judge will need to make choices on what is best for the child. my-daughter-1440088

When a judge decides on custody, California family law dictates many different factors to be considered so the judge can assess what custody arrangement is in a child’s best interests.  A child’s age is one thing that may make a  difference when making custody decisions. When a child is considered old enough to express a preference and to make an informed decision, the judge will consider the child’s opinion when splitting up custody among the parents.

At Brown & Charbonneau, LLP, we understand how important it is to you that you are awarded a custody arrangement that you believe is best for your children. We will work hard to help ensure that you can make strong arguments during custody negotiations or during litigation so you end up with enough time with your children.  Give us a call today to learn more about how we can help.

Can a Judge Consider a Child’s Age When Making Custody Decisions?

Family Code Section 3042 states that: “If a child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to custody or visitation, the court shall consider, and give due weight to, the wishes of the child in making an order granting or modifying custody or visitation.”

The same family code section also specifies that if a child is 14 or older and wishes to address the court related to matters of custody or visitation, the child should be allowed to provide testimony unless a judge decides it is not in the child’s best interest to let him speak.

If a child is precluded from being a witness for some reason, the court should provide other means to determine the child’s preferences so the child is able to provide some input into the decision-making process.

While the law requires the court to consider a child’s age and a child’s preferences when making custody decisions, the opinion of the child (if any) is not going to be the only determining factor. The court must also consider many other issues, including whether either parent is the primary caregiver and whether either parent is, or is not, capable of providing a stable and supportive home and appropriate care for the child.

Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can provide information to parents about all of the different issues a judge considers in family court when making custody decisions. We can explain how your child’s age will affect custody proceedings and can provide guidance on other relevant matters so you will be prepared to make the strongest possible case for your preferred custody arrangement.  To learn more, give us a call today.