Child custody, Divorce, Family Law

Can Children Express Their Preferences in Texas Custody Proceedings?

Posted by brian on April 1, 2019
Williamson County TX Family Lawyer

In Texas, child custody hearings allow each parent to present their case to the judge. The purpose of the hearing is to determine which parent is more suitable for the child and can provide the healthiest living environment. The judge renders their decision after evaluating each parent, their annual income, and the findings of a home study. In some states, a child has the legal right to choose with which parent they live and influence the child custody arrangement. When facing custody cases, any parent is advised to consult a custody lawyer. Consult a Round Rock Child Custody lawyer to help you understand the children preferences guidelines in Texas.

What Age is Appropriate for Making the Request?

According to state laws, the child cannot make any requests pertaining to parental preferences until the age of 12. However, the state laws specify that no child can decide about where they live until the child reaches the age of 18. Until the child has become an adult, he or she must follow the child custody order rendered by the judge. A Cedar Park Child Custody Lawyer at the Jackson Firm can advise parents when a child wants to discuss their parental preferences and explain what to expect in family court.

How are the Child’s Wishes Evaluated?

Texas Family Code Section 153.009(a) outlines the requirements for considering the child’s wishes. The decision to hear the child’s wishes is based on the judge’s discretion, and it is not required by law. Any judge can deny the child the chance to discuss their preferences without penalty or any further legal action.

However, if the judge agrees to meet with the child, the state code states that the judge must meet with the child in the judge’s chambers alone. The parents are not permitted to join the discussion. The purpose of the closed meeting is to give the child the chance to discuss their preferences with the judge without the influence of either parent. It gives the child a safer environment to talk to the judge without hostility or retaliation from either parent. If a Cedar Park Child Custody Attorney wishes to attend the meeting or interview, a court reporter must attend to record the details.

Are the Judges Required to Respect the Child’s Wishes?

No, as a Round Rock Child Custody Lawyer can explain, no judge is required to respect the wishes of the child, and he or she can deny the child’s wishes entirely. During the interview with the child, the judge determines the exact reasons why the child has selected one parent over the other.

The child custody order is determined according to the most suitable living environment for the child. The lifestyle of each parent is reviewed to establish if a risk is present. If the judge identifies a risk to the child, the parent who poses the risk is less likely to get custody even if the child favors the parent.

An Alternative Solution

A parent has the right to hire a Cedar Park Child Custody Attorney specifically for their child or to obtain a more extensive evaluation of the child. A licensed psychiatrist from Child Protective Services evaluates the child and determines if either parent is abusing the child in any way. The findings are reported to the child along with the child’s testimony about the offending parent. The judge could grant the child’s wishes if a parent threatens the child’s welfare.

In Texas, either parent has the legal right to seek custody of their child. A child custody hearing is scheduled if parents are unable to reach an accord about their custody arrangement. Both parents must attend the hearing, and a judge renders a final decision. In some cases, a judge may grant a child who is at least 12 the right to present their parental preferences. However, the judge must meet with the child privately, and the judge is not obligated to grant the child’s wishes. Parents who need the assistance of a Cedar Park Child Custody Lawyer are encouraged to contact the Jackson Law Firm right now. 

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