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How Much Weight Does The Child’s Preference Carry?

How much weight does the child’s preference carry?

The preference of your child is only one of many factors a judge may consider in determining custody. The age of your child and his or her ability to express the underlying reason for their preference to live with either parent will determine the amount of weight the judge will give to your child’s preference. Although there is no age at which your child’s preference determines custody, most judges give more weight to the wishes of an older child.

The reasoning underlying your child’s preference is also a factor to consider.  A court may give little weight to a child who has been coached versus a child who is credible. Consider the fifteen-year-old girl who wants to live with her mother because “Mom lets me stay out past curfew, I get a bigger allowance, and I don’t have to do chores.” Greater weight might be given to the preference of an eight-year-old who wants to live with his mother because “she helps me with my homework, reads me bedtime stories, and doesn’t call me names like Dad does.”

If you see that your child’s preference may be a factor in the determination of custody, discuss it with your lawyer so that this consideration is a part of assessing the action to be taken in your case.

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