Will the Court Let My Teenager Decide Which Parent Gets Custody?
Are you a divorced or separated parent with a teenager in Texas? You may want to ask: Does my child get to decide which parent gets custody? The answer is “no”—at least not unilaterally. That being said, your teenager’s wishes matter a lot. In this article, our Galveston County child custody lawyer provides a comprehensive overview of the key things that parents need to know about a teenager’s right to give input on their living situation in Texas.
Background: Child’s Best Interests Takes Priority
As background information, it is crucial that all parents know that the child’s best interests are the priority in custody and visitation cases in Texas. Under (Tex. Fam. Code § 153.002), what is best for the child is the “primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.” In other words, custody and visitation disputes are always resolved with close consideration to the child’s best interests.
Texas Law: Children 12 and Over Can Give Input on Living Arrangements
In the state of Texas, the law recognizes the maturity and perspective of older children in custody cases. Once a child reaches the age of 12, they can express their preference to the court about which parent they’d prefer to live with. This often takes place in the judge’s chambers, thereby ensuring a safe and confidential environment for a young person to give their input.
A Child’s Wishes is Not the Sole Determining Factor
While a child’s wishes can provide valuable insight into their preferred living situation, it’s not the sole determining factor in custody battles. The primary concern of the court remains the child’s best interests. Factors such as each parent’s ability to provide a stable environment, financial security, and the child’s health and safety play pivotal roles in the decision-making process. Beyond that, the court will evaluate the reasons behind the child’s preference. Among other things, a Texas court must confirm that a child is not being unduly not influenced by parental manipulation.
Summary: In Texas custody cases, courts must protect the best interests of the child. State law requires courts to consider a child’s preferred living arrangement—which parent gets primary physical possession—only if the child is 12 years of age or older. A court will take a teenager’s wishes seriously. However, that is only one factor in a custody case. While a teenager’s input matters a lot, they do not get to make the ultimate decision on their own.
Get Help From a Child Custody Attorney in Galveston County
At Lindamood & Robinson, P.C., our Galveston County child custody lawyers put in the time and attention to detail to help parents find the best solutions. If you have any questions about the custody dispute, please do not hesitate to contact us today for a confidential review of your case. We handle custody matters in Galveston County and throughout the entire Houston metro area.