Can a Child Pick Which Parent They Want to Live With?

parents fighting over child

A Child’s Difficult Decision

Child custody cases can be difficult for the parents, but perhaps they are even heavier for the children involved. They may feel as if they are torn between their parents, or perhaps they may wish to stay with one parent over the other. If a child wants to live with one parent instead of another, how does that preference affect a custody case in court? Here is what you should know about the role of a child’s preference in child custody battles.

Coming of Age

There is no law in California that states a child can choose which parent they would like to live with in a custody case. A child may not officially choose with which parent they would like to live until they are 18 years old or emancipated. However, California Family Code does provide a statute that states a child may express a preference related to residing with a parent. The statute says that a child who is of sufficient age (usually 14 years old) and possesses the capability of rational decision-making may state their preference if given the opportunity to do so by a judge.

The court may choose to let the child testify in court and express their preference, but the court will pay careful attention to the rationale behind the child’s decision. A child that chooses their mother because of a close relationship or the proximity to school or friends may have a better argument than a child that chooses their mother because they were promised a special toy.

However, just because this statute exists does not mean that a judge will automatically hear the preferences of a child in court. The court may find that hearing a child’s preference of parent may pose a detriment to the child’s own best interests and may choose not to hear the child’s wishes. Similarly, just because the court hears the child’s wishes does not mean that the court will immediately side with the child and assign custody to the preferred parent.

Work with a California Custody Attorney

Because of the sensitivity and complexity surrounding child custody cases, it’s important to work with a custody attorney capable of defending your right to be a parent in court. At Law Offices of Michael D. Iverson, APC we understand how important it is to spend time with your child and be a part of their life as they develop. We will work with you to protect your parental rights and work toward a solution that serves the best interests of your child.

To schedule a consultation with our team, call our office at (951) 418-2770 or visit us online.

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