Can children be involved in their own custody hearings?

by | Dec 2, 2019 | Child Custody

During a custody battle in California, the court bases its decisions on the best interests of the child. To determine the best possible custody arrangement is difficult. Divorce is emotional and complicated enough, when you involve children, it can lead to more complications. Normally, it is up to either the parents or the courts to determine the custody arrangement. If the parents cannot come to an agreement, then the judge can come up with an agreement for them. What about a child’s preference?

There is no rule or mandate for children to participate in the custody process, according to the California court. However, if a child does want to participate, then he or she may be able to do so. The court must balance out the child’s input and protection of the child. In order for a child to have a say in his or her own custody arrangement, he or she should be at least 14 years old. The only reason that the court may decide not to hear from a juvenile of 14 years or older is if it is not in the child’s best interest.

A child must be of sufficient age and intelligence to be able to speak on his or her own behalf.  The courts will consider the child’s reasoning for his or her preference. For instance, if he or she does not have a valid or intelligent reason, he or she may not receive favorable results. The court must also determine whether the child is at risk emotionally if he or she addresses the court.

The above information is for educational purposes only and is not to be used as legal advice.