Can a child’s wishes be factored in with child custody?
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Can a child’s wishes be factored in with child custody?

On Behalf of | Mar 23, 2022 | Child Custody |

Georgia child custody cases can be emotionally wrenching. Whether it is a significant dispute or the sides are simply trying to come to a reasonable agreement that would suit both parents and the child, it is important to remember that the child’s best interests should come to the forefront. Many might think that the court will assess the case and make the final decision with the parents playing a fundamental role. However, the child may also speak out about the child custody and visitation agreement.

Children age 11 and up can be heard in a child custody case

According to Georgia law, children age 11 and up can state a preference and be heard. Children who are at least 11 and under 14 will have their desires and educational needs considered by the judge after stating a preference. That does not mean that the judge must listen to the child and follow their wishes. The child’s best interests are paramount.

If, for example, the educational requirements will be better suited by living with the mother but the child has asked to live with the father, the entire scope of the case will be gauged to come to an informed decision. It might be that the judge puts greater emphasis on education, the schooling is better near the mother’s home and the judge rejects the child’s request. There can also be a trial period of up to six months in which temporary custody is granted to the child’s preferred custodial parent.

For children 14 and older, the child can choose who to live with. Still, it is not guaranteed that the request will be granted by the court. The best interest rule still applies and the court will consider whether the child will be better off with the selected parent or the other parent. It is possible that the child simply wants to live with a parent who is less strict or there is another reason for the request and the court disagrees with it.

A child can be heard in child custody and parents should understand this

Knowing what the law says regarding a child’s perspective in child custody is key and can smooth the process and benefit everyone. In cases where the parents are on reasonably good terms, they could be agreeable to letting the child make a request and adhering to it. Of course, maturity, education and the justification for the request are all key aspects of the final decision. When the case is acrimonious, it can lead to complications when the child is taking part in the custody decision. With these complex issues, it is important to have assistance throughout the case so everyone’s rights are protected.