Can Your Child Choose Custody in Texas
Question: At what age can your child choose custody in Texas? In other words, can your child choose the parent that he or she wants to live with?
Answer by Family Law Attorney Vonda Covington: I am often asked, “My child is xx years old. Can’t he decide who he lives with?” The answer is not a simple yes or no. There is not a magic age (other than 18, the age of adulthood in these matters) after which the child can choose custody, or determine the parent he lives with.
The Court May Take the Child’s Wishes into Account
The court makes the decision of which parent can designate the child’s primary residence based on what the court finds to be in the child’s best interests. The child’s desires are one factor that the court can take into account in making the determination of the child’s best interests.
The older the child, the more weight his desire might carry with the court. The parent who wants the child’s voice heard on the issue of whom the child lives with will have to request the judge to interview the child in chambers.
Usually, the judge will allow the hearing or trial to take place first, then will schedule a time for the child to come to court and visit with the judge. This is a private meeting with the judge and the child and the child’s attorney (if he has one).
If either party requests it, a court reporter might be present to record the meeting. However, it is usually best for neither parent to see a transcript of the meeting. If the child is assured in advance that the meeting will remain confidential, he is free to speak more openly with the judge.
What Other Factors Influence Child Custody Decisions
Other factors that the judge takes into account in determining which parent is better suited to have custody of the child include which parent is more willing to promote a relationship between the child and the other parent, the relative involvement the parents have had in the child’s day to day life, the child’s relationships with siblings and step- and half-sibling, and the relative structure in the homes of the two parents.
Call Covington & Zand for Child Custody Advice Based on Your Facts
Call our office at 281-762-0578 for an appointment to talk about child custody or managing conservatorship based on the facts of your situation. You can also send us an email using our contact form. We primarily serve clients from Fort Bend County from our offices in Richmond, Texas.