Divorce is heartbreaking for any spouse. But unfortunately, the effects on children are usually far worse. That is why most parents hope that the court takes into consideration their children’s wishes when it comes to how much time they will spend with the other parent. Thankfully, the court makes their decision based on the child’s age, maturity, and the reasons given by the child for their preference.
How does the Court Determine my Child’s Wishes?
The court obtains information regarding a child’s wishes in a number of ways. Typically, the child will not testify at trial. Although the court can interview the child upon the request of a party, this rarely happens. Most judges prefer to have the child interviewed by someone with more expertise in child issues, and who can meet the child in a more informal setting than judicial chambers. Thus, courts are usually informed of a child’s wishes through third parties.
What Third-Party Options are Available?
Parents have access to several third-party options to help judges make informed decisions about their children. For example, a child’s counselor may testify regarding the child’s wishes or the child can be interviewed by the court’s Conciliation Services. Another option is to appoint a private custody evaluator. They will interview the child as part of their overall evaluation. The child’s wishes will then be set forth in a written report to the court.
The child’s wishes are not the sole deciding factor for the court regarding custody or parenting time. But, they do play an important part in the decision process. However, do not try to influence what your child says to an interviewer; good interviewers know how to find out if a child has been coached.
At Hallier Lawrence, we understand that your child’s well-being is your first priority.
Contact us at Hallier Lawrence for more information on divorce and child custody issues.