Can Children Choose Which Parent They Want to Live With During a California Divorce?
September 15, 2022, In Child SupportDivorce
At WHITMARSH FAMILY LAW, PC, our family law attorney in Los Angeles knows that when California parents divorce, the best interests of their minor children are the priority.
This is important, because the court will always put the kids’ best interests first when determining which parent gets primary custody, which will dictate where the children live.
One common question our Los Angeles County divorce attorneys are asked is, whether the children can simply choose which parent they want to live with, so a child custody debate is not an issue.
The answer is much more complex. Here is what divorcing parents need to know about their child’s ability to weigh in on custody decisions.
Child Custody Decisions are Based on Multiple Factors
Parents have several options that will allow them to keep the courts out of their child custody decision. They include deciding on a custody agreement privately, with the help of their attorneys, or during mediation. If they cannot finalize a child custody agreement, the court will determine where the child lives for them.
If the children are of a “sufficient age,” — which means they can form an intelligent opinion of their own — the court may consider and weigh their preference. The State of California Family Code 3042 lists a sufficient age as 14 or older.
However, that does not mean a 14-year-old (or older) can make the final decision about where he or she lives. Other important factors will be weighed, in conjunction with the child’s wishes.
They may include, but are not limited to:
- The child’s health and safety.
- The stability of each parent’s household.
- Either parent’s time spent away from the home.
- The ability of each to be a fit parent and properly care for the child.
- Either parent’s history of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence.
- Either parent’s use of alcohol or drugs.
- Each parent’s history of caregiving and overall bond with the child.
- Whether one parent has made a false allegation against the other to gain a custodial advantage.
- Which parent is more likely to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent.
Once the judge weighs each factor, and hears testimony from each side, he or she will finalize the agreement to include each parent’s legal rights, physical custody, visitation agreements, and the child support amount.
Contact WHITMARSH FAMILY LAW, PC Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
If you have questions about how your divorce will impact who is awarded custody of your children, contact our skilled divorce attorneys in Los Angeles County at WHITMARSH FAMILY LAW, PC by calling (310) 552-3505 to schedule a free consultation today. We can help provide solutions that produce results.