In Texas, the courts believe that children should not be able to choose who to live with after divorce. They are minors, and their decisions may not always be in their own best interests. That being said, the court will hear what children have to say about who they want to live with. If they bring attention to a problem or issue that the judge didn’t previously know about, then that could end up changing the judge’s decision on where the child lives and when.
Child custody is guided by Section 153.009 of the Texas Family Code, which states that children can file the name of the parent they want to live with at court. Knowing their preference is important, even if they don’t end up getting exactly what they want.
At what age does your child get to make a statement to the court?
Typically, the court doesn’t interview a child until they are at least 12 years old. At that time, the child may make their own wishes known, but their wishes may not directly impact the court’s decision about what’s in the best interests of the child.
Why does that matter? Think about it this way. Imagine that there is one parent who is trying to “buy” their child’s love with gifts and attention. They promise them all kinds of good things if they choose to live with them. This kind of manipulation is unfair and unreasonable, but the child may still state that they want to live with the parent making those offers.
The judge, seeing this behavior, may rule differently despite the child feeling that they want to live with the parent offering them lots of vacations or toys. Though the child may not feel that they’re going where they should, a judge may see that the manipulation isn’t healthy and decide on a different arrangement.
That example is just one reason why a child’s wishes don’t dictate the outcome of a physical custody case. If you have concerns about your child’s wishes, you may want to discuss them with your own legal team and work to provide evidence that what you’re proposing is actually what’s best for your child’s health and wellness.