Child custody choice in Texas: Can a child decide?

Often, when a child reaches the age of 12, divorced parents going through the child custody process in Texas wonder, “can a child pick which parent to live with?” While a child cannot unilaterally make that decision, there is a mechanism in place for the child to make their wishes known to the judge.

Please continue reading and reach out to an experienced Montgomery County family law attorney from the Bolton Law Firm today to learn more about whether this is the case. Here are some of the questions you may have:

Does a Child’s Age Affect Their Right to Choose Which Parent to Live With in a Child Custody Case?

Simply put, no, a child does not have the right to choose which parent he or she wants to live with, even after they reach their 12th birthday. Though you may have heard this rumor or even have had people tell you this directly, it’s untrue.

Though a child has the right to express a preference to a judge for living with one parent over the other, a child’s preference is just one factor the court considers. The court will take the child’s wishes into account, but the final decision regarding the child’s primary residence is based on the best interest of the child. If you want more information on how the courts decide which parent has custody, visit our FAQ page. The Texas Family Code allows for the consideration of a child’s wishes regarding the child’s primary residence and visitation arrangements.

Child Custody- Can a child decide?

How is Custody Traditionally Decided Upon in Texas, and Can a Child’s Preference Modify Custody Later On?

Typically, courts will only grant a custody order to the parent they believe can best serve their child’s interests. The court will consider the emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future. The court will also assess the parental abilities of each parent. Of course, when making a custody decision, they will consider a variety of factors, including the child’s bond with each parent, which parent primarily raises the child, where the child would receive the best education and most social fulfillment, and more. The Texas Supreme Court has provided a list of factors for judges to consider in determining the best interest of the child, including the emotional and physical danger to the child.

The Texas Supreme Court also considers the exciting parent-child relationship when assessing the stability of both parties’ homes and any acts or omissions that may indicate an improper relationship.

Once your child is 12, the judge may consider your child’s preference, but this will not be the deciding factor in a judge’s determination. According to Texas law, a child age 12 or older can express their wishes to the judge during a private interview, but the best interest of the child remains the primary consideration.

That said, if something happens that may warrant a modification to a custody agreement, such as one parent developing a substance abuse issue or committing an act of domestic violence, the other parent can request a modification.

If you would like to know more about child custody in Texas, or what may happen when a child expresses a desire to live with his or her other parent, simply give a knowledgeable Montgomery County child custody lawyer from our legal team a call. We are here to help you, your family, and preserve your child’s best interests, at all costs.

Practical Steps for Parents

For parents navigating this complex aspect of Texas custody cases, open communication with the child is vital. Ensuring the child feels heard and understood can make a significant difference. Consulting with a family law attorney can provide clarity on how the child’s age and preference might influence the court’s decision and help parents prepare a compelling case if they seek to modify custody based on the child’s wishes. Additionally, parents should consider any emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future, as these factors are crucial in custody decisions. All of this is important to consider in order to maintain a healthy and supportive parent-child relationship during the custody process.

Contact Our The Woodlands, Texas Firm

If you are looking for an expert Montgomery County divorce lawyer, Bolton Law is the right law firm for you. Bolton Law’s legal team handles all family law matters, including divorce, child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, and much more. Contact Bolton Law today to schedule your initial consultation and take the first step in maintaining your parent-child relationship.

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