When parents divorce or separate, child custody is typically among the most challenging issues they must address. In California, family courts strive to make determinations about child custody that account for the best interests of the child.
However, in some cases, a child’s own preferences may be considered in determining custody. This overview will explain in greater detail when a child’s preferences can and can’t influence the outcome of child custody proceedings.
California law allows children to have a voice in custody proceedings, but the weight given to a child’s preferences depends on several factors, including the child’s age, maturity, and ability to express themselves. In California, there is no set age at which a child can decide which parent they want to live with, but generally, a child’s preference is given more weight as they get older and more mature.
When a child’s preference is considered in custody proceedings, the court will take several factors into account, including:
While a child’s preference can be considered in custody proceedings, it is important to note that the court’s ultimate decision is based on the best interests of the child. There are several situations in which a child’s preference may not be given weight in determining custody:
Again, these are complex issues. Although this overview may have answered some of your basic questions about the degree to which a child’s preferences may impact the outcome of a child custody proceeding, for more specific information pertaining to your case, it’s best to discuss the topic with a qualified attorney. At the Law Offices of Stephanie L. Mahdavi, a Westlake Village child custody lawyer can help you navigate this area of your divorce with greater confidence. To learn more, contact us online or call us at 805-379-4550.