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Do Children Have a Say in Decisions About Child Custody?

Posted on in Child Custody and Visitation

Los Gatos child custody attorneyWhen married parents get divorced, or when unmarried parents are separated, they will need to settle a variety of legal issues related to their children. Disputes over child custody can often become heated and contentious, and parents may disagree about how they will make decisions about raising their children, where children will live, and a variety of other matters. When addressing these matters in family court, the decisions made will be based on what is in the children’s best interests. Multiple factors may be considered by the court, including the preferences of the children.

When Can Children’s Opinions Be Considered in a Child Custody Case?

There are two types of custody that will need to be addressed by divorcing or separated parents. Legal custody involves the right and responsibility to make decisions about children’s health, welfare, and education, while physical custody addresses where children will live and the time they will spend in each parent’s care. 

In most cases, California’s family courts usually prefer to have parents share legal custody, although one parent may be granted sole legal custody in some cases. Physical custody may also be shared, or one parent may be granted sole or primary custody, with the other parent being granted visitation time.

When determining how to address legal and physical custody, a child’s preferences should be considered, as long as the child is old enough and has enough reasoning ability to be able to form an intelligent opinion. If a child is at least 14 years old, they can ask to testify in court regarding their preferences, and they will be allowed to do so, unless the court determines that this would not be in their best interests. Children under the age of 14 may also be permitted to testify if the court believes that this would be appropriate.

If a judge decides not to allow a child to be called as a witness, other methods may be used to ensure that a child’s input is considered, such as having the child provide a written statement or meet privately with the judge to discuss their preferences. A judge may also appoint a child custody evaluator or guardian ad litem to determine whether a child wishes to express their preferences or provide input into decisions about child custody.

Contact Our Los Gatos, CA Child Custody Lawyer

As you work to resolve issues related to child custody, you will want to make sure you are considering your children’s best interests. At Ventresca Law Firm, we can help you determine the best ways to address these matters while protecting your parental rights and taking your children’s wishes into consideration. To set up a free consultation, contact our Los Gatos family law attorney today by calling 408-395-8822.

Sources:

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=FAM&sectionNum=3042.

https://www.courts.ca.gov/17975.htm?rdeLocaleAttr=en

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