www.legallistings.us - LegalListings.us

Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live with in California?

Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live with in California?

Divorce is challenging under the best of circumstances. But when child custody is involved, the process becomes much more complicated. Parents often disagree on who should have primary custody. However, it’s easy to forget the child could also have a preference for who they want to live with.

Many states, including California, require family courts to take the child’s preferences into consideration. So how does this work? Can a child choose which parent to live with in California? Here’s a quick overview.

How California Decides Child Custody Cases

When parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, a family court judge will need to decide for them. The judge is required to consider several factors, including:

  • Both parents’ ability to be a fit parent

  • Which parent has been the primary caregiver

  • How stable each parent’s household is

  • Whether either parent has a history of violence, abuse, or addiction

  • Where the child’s siblings live, if any

  • Whether any parent has made false abuse allegations, or otherwise tried to impede the child’s relationship with the other parent

  • Whether the child is safe in either home

  • The child’s preference

  • Other relevant factors

Contrary to popular belief, the court will not automatically weigh their decision towards the mother. The court will base their decision solely on the best interests of the child, without regard to either parent’s gender or gender identity.

When Does the Child’s Preference Matter?

It’s complicated. California law gives children aged 14 or older to state their preference, but the judge can deny that right if they believe it would be dangerous to the child. But the law also allows children younger than 14 to state a preference, as long as the court believes it to be in their best interest.

Either way, if the court decides it would not be in the child’s interest to state a preference directly, they must provide another method. Normally, this requires the involvement of a court-appointed custody evaluator.

Keep in mind that no matter how the child states their preference, it’s just that: a preference. It’s only one of many factors the judge will need to consider when making a custody arrangement. For example, there was one case where a boy said he wanted to live with his father because the father was less strict. In that case, the judge awarded custody to the mother, who was more responsible.

But there are times the child’s preference can matter. For example, one parent might live near their friends and school, while the other parent has moved hours away. In those types of cases, the child’s preference can carry a heavy weight.

Get Help from a Rancho Cucamonga Family Lawyer

As you can see, child custody in California is complex and easily confusing. For help to navigate this civil court system, consider partnering with a Rancho Cucamonga family lawyer.

The Law Office of Laurence J. Brock has years of experience in family law and with cases like yours. Take advantage of our free consultation by calling our office at 909-466-7661 or by visiting us online.

About the Author:

Law Office of Laurence J. Brock

Attorney Laurence J. Brock is a divorce lawyer in Rancho Cucamonga who has practiced family law for over 25 years, you can depend on our teams experience, counsel, and integrity to help preserve your dignity as we guide you through the emotional journey and intricate legal process. From divorce to child support, alimony to child custody, our Rancho Cucamonga family lawyers know how to get the results you need to protect the best interests of your family. Contact our firm today to get started on resolving your family law issue today.... View full business profile here: Law Office of Laurence J. Brock

Comments, Thoughts & Responses