During your divorce, one of the most important things to establish is custody of your child. You need to set up a parenting plan and custody schedule that works for everyone involved.
Your child may have their own preferences in terms of where they go to live after the divorce. California requires the best interests of your child to be kept in mind when making decisions about where they live, but that doesn’t mean that your preferences or your child’s preferences will be the final decision.
Your child doesn’t get to choose custody, but they get a say
For the most part, the court will not allow your child to decide where they’re going to live after the divorce. However, the judge will listen to what your child has to say and decide if what they want is in their best interests. If they agree with the child’s wishes, then they may order a custody schedule that reflects those wishes.
Once your child is 14, their right to address the court is solidified by law. However, there is no rule that says that they can’t talk to the court and make their wishes known at an earlier age. A child who is 14 or older may not always be heard if it’s found that coming to court would not be in their best interests.
Is it fair to try to influence your child’s preferences?
No. It’s not reasonable for either parent to go to extraordinary measures to try to convince their child to say that they’d like to live with them. That kind of behavior could actually hurt a parent’s custody case and result in the other parent obtaining more time with their child. Taking action to pit your child against the other parent in any way could lead to accusations of parental alienation.
If you are going through a custody case, it’s a good idea to build your custody case to show why you want the custody schedule you do. A balanced schedule is more likely to be approved when both parents play a positive role in the child’s life.