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Child Custody and Visitation: At What Age Can a Child Decide Where to Live?

Posted on in Child Custody & Visitation

California divorce lawyer, California family law attorneyAs parents, we try to do everything in our power to protect our children. In California state law, the determination of custody and visitation schedule revolves solely on what is in the best interest of the child. However, past a certain age, the child begins to have a significant amount more weight in the decision-making process, especially when it comes to child custody and visitation.

When the Child Decides

As parents, we know what is best for our children. However, there comes the point in their life when they begin to have wants, needs, and opinions that may differ from ours. It is a part of the growing up process, and our children will inevitably reach this point as we did with our parents. That age is different for each person, so who determines at what age this is an age appropriate decision? A few years ago, California resolved the dispute by setting guidelines for which to follow. According to California Family Code 3042, consideration will be given to the preferences of the child if:

  • The child is of sound mind and capable of rational reasoning, or
  • If the child is 14 years of age or older and it is in the best interest of the child.

Their Preference Is Not Guaranteed

Although under these conditions minor’s do have the ability to have their voices heard, what they want is not always ordered. The court will take into consideration the best interest of the child and also carefully watch for signs that the request may not be sincere, such as in conditioning or coaxing. Legislators chose this age because of the belief that at this age they have reached an emotional maturity level to make such decisions. However, their statements hold less validity if the child cannot conduct themselves appropriately.

A Family Law Attorney Can Help

If you are a parent that is on the fence about allowing their child to have a say in the custody arrangements, consider weighing your options with an experienced family law attorney. We can assist you in having your parental rights protected as well as ensuring that your child has compassionate representation in this life-altering decision. If you would like to discuss your questions with a San Jose, CA family law attorney, contact the Law Offices of Benita Ventresca today to schedule your free initial consultation at 408-395-8822.

 

Source:

http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-custody.htm

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