With the COVID-19 pandemic still in effect, custody issues have not gotten any simpler. Parents have to account for virtual learning arrangements, taking steps to mitigate the risk of exposure to the virus, and deal with the new financial challenges faced by countless Americans.
Naturally, this means that most custody disputes are between parents, and children don’t get to offer much input. But does the CA court system account for this, and are there ways for children to weigh in on their custody preferences?
The answer to this is yes, but to a limited extent. Here’s what California family law has to say about children’s preference
When is a Child Old Enough to Weigh In?
California law doesn’t spell out a concrete number on this, rather includes any “sufficient age and capacity to reason.” This is because levels of maturity can vary between children, and older kids are not always mature enough to make a decision.
That said, all children over the age of 14 can weigh in if a judge determines that this is in their best interest.
How can a Child Weigh In?
Once the decision has been made to allow a child to weigh in on custody matter, he or she can offer input in a few different ways:
- A child can discuss their preferences with a mediator, who then reports his/her findings with the court
- A court can choose to appoint an attorney that solely represent the child and his/her interests
- A child may be allowed to speak with a child custody evaluator, who can include the child’s preferences in his/her report.
- A judge can interview a child privately, with a court report who records the discussion which can be provided to parents upon request.
- A child can offer testimony from the witness stand
While a child’s preference is not going to be the definitive determining factor in a child custody case, it will certainly play a role in the court’s deliberations. After all, their priority is in protecting the best interests of the child, and their input is certainly a valuable part of the equation.
Consult with a Child Custody Attorney Today
We hope this post helped shed light on how a child’s preference can influence child custody proceedings in CA. This is just one of many factors that can affect the outcome of these legal proceedings, and it can be difficult to account for every scenario.
The best way to mitigate your risk is to consult with a skilled attorney, someone who can become your dedicated legal advocate. LEarn more about how we can help you and your loved ones navigate custody issues in CA. Call us at the Law Offices of James P. White today to schedule a free consultation.