Texas Custody Disputes: Your Child’s Voice
If your divorce has led to a custody dispute, you know how difficult that is. When it comes to divorce, the determination of child custody arrangements is nearly always the primary concern – coming before even the division of marital assets – and it is often fraught with emotion and trepidation. Leaving custody arrangements up to the judge, whose discretion is considerable, can be especially daunting. Many factors play a role in custody decisions, but your child’s voice and preferences can be heard.
Texas Family Code
Texas Family Code allows parents to request that the presiding judge in a custody case interview the child (whose custody arrangements are being determined) in chambers in order to better understand the child’s wishes as they relate to certain components of custody. In fact, if the child is over the age of 12, such an interview is mandatory upon a parent’s request. A child under the age of 12, however, may also be interviewed. A child’s preferences – in addition to other important factors – can play a role in the court’s custody decisions. Children, however, do not ultimately get to make their own decisions about where and with whom they are going to live after divorce.
Interview in Chambers
Requesting that your child be interviewed by the judge regarding child custody arrangements can be a powerful tool in the process of determining child custody arrangements, but it can also be traumatic for your child. Being interviewed in a judge’s chamber can intimidate anyone, and this is especially true for children. Further, even if your child does have a preference about with whom he or she will live, the pressure of seemingly choosing one parent over another can be very painful for a child. All told, being interviewed by the judge in chambers can be unnecessarily burdensome for the child. It is important to carefully consider the ramifications of such an interview before moving forward with this option.
Child Custody Evaluation
An interview with the judge is not the only mechanism for obtaining a child’s input in a custody dispute. A Child Custody Evaluation that is made by a child custody evaluator is a useful tool in the establishment of child custody arrangements. Such an evaluation takes a much more holistic approach to helping the court determine what is in the best interests of the child. A Child Custody Evaluation typically includes separate interviews with both parents and with anyone else living in the child’s home, an interview with the child, and home observations that reflect the environment in the home and each parent’s personal interactions with the child.
If You Are Facing a Child Custody Battle, You Need an Experienced Central Texas Family Law Attorney
Divorce is difficult, and issues related to custody are the most difficult of all. Attorney Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Central Texas is here to help. Mr. Pritchard has the experience, dedication, and compassion to help you pursue custody arrangements that put your child first. For more information, please contact or call us at (254) 220-4225.