It does not matter that a child of divorcing parents prefers to live with a specific parent. The judge considers the child’s best interests when choosing which parent is awarded for having custody.
For the child to choose what custody they prefer, they must be at an age sufficient for expressing intelligent opinions. In California, that age is 14 years or older. However, it is still up to the judge to determine the most suitable custody arrangement.
When involved in a child custody case in California, the Tierney Law Group can help you gain and protect your custodial rights over your child.
What Are the Child’s Best Interests?
A judge might find this challenging in determining why a child prefers one parent over the other. Just because the child expresses they want to live with their mother or father, it does not apply automatically; the judge must look deeper.
California has determined what age can a child choose which parent to live with is at least 14 years. However, the family court and judge determine the ultimate answer in assigning custody. A Pleasanton family law attorney is prepared for these situations and can help.
Child’s Right to Choose Their Preferred Custody in CA
The role of the child during a custody hearing is to testify before the court under Family Code. A 14-year-old child can testify their preference regarding parental custody. Normally, this is granted by the court unless the judge feels it is not in the child’s best interest.
Sometimes it isn’t in the child’s best interest when a child prefers one parent over the other — a true statement in cases where the parent may be threatening or abusive. The family court judge will use discretion when placing a child with their preferred parent.
Factors such as finances, substance abuse, and the ability to provide the best environment are considered when determining custody. A Pleasanton CA family law attorney will explain all the contributing factors in assigning child custody in California.
Why Would a Judge Ignore the Child’s Wishes?
In most cases, the court abides by the child’s wishes regarding custody. However, there are a few reasons a judge will ignore those wishes:
- In cases that involve the child’s neglect or abuse, the child wants to remain with the abusive parent.
- In obvious cases of parental alienation, one parent attempts to turn the child against the other parent.
- The parent, a child, prefers is sans rules and discipline –a “Disneyland” parent.
- One or both parents are showing signs of bullying the child into choosing them.
Guardian Ad Litem
When the court is looking for a way to know the child’s best interests, a “guardian ad litem” (GAL) is appointed. This is a person neutral to the child custody case. The court will appoint a GAL to aid in discovering parental responsibilities and rights during a marriage dissolution case.
A guardian ad litem is appointed when a minor cannot provide their defense in court. The GAL is a neutral person, such as a social worker or attorney, that may be chosen as representation for the child.
Choosing the Best Custody for Your Child?
If you are involved in child custody in California case, we are a Pleasanton family law attorney that can help. The Tierney Law Group has a team of lawyers who care about your custody case’s outcome. When you need a Pleasanton CA family law attorney to set up and modify a custody order for your child’s best interest, we can help. We care about the future of you and your children. Call the Tierney Law Group at 925-362-3364 to schedule a consultation appointment.