Many divorcing parents have concerns and questions related to how their children will split their time between them after divorce. A common theme among these questions is when and if a child’s preference comes into play, and the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions on this topic can help.
At What Age Does a Child Get to Choose Which Parent to Live With?
The bottom line is that when a child turns 18, he or she is free to make his or her own decisions regarding which parent to live with (or whether to live with a parent at all), but until that time, the child’s parents are responsible for making important life decisions for him or her, including decisions about all the following:
Where the child lives
Where the child goes to school
The child’s religious upbringing
The child’s extracurriculars
The child’s health care
The court will take a child’s preference into consideration, however, once he or she reaches the age of 12 and is deemed mature enough to weigh in. The court’s stance is that adults are better suited than children are to make life decisions of this magnitude.
At What Age Can a Child Choose Not to Visit His or Her Other Parent?
Custody orders, including terms related to visitation, are not up for interpretation or modification (without a court order). If there is a compelling reason why you or your child wants to modify the visitation schedule you have, you will need to seek a modification through the court. Simply adhering to your child’s wishes because you believe that he or she is old enough to make such a choice will not hold legally.
What if My Ex and I Agree about Changing Our Parenting Schedule?
If you and your ex are on the same page about modifying your parenting schedule (as guided by your child’s preference or for any other reason), you are ahead of the game and can move forward with requesting a modification from the court. Without such a modification, however, your original orders will remain in effect, and if your ex changes his or her mind on the matter at a later date, you could be found in contempt of court.
How Will My Child’s Voice Be Heard?
Texas courts are interested in hearing your child’s voice, and if you have a custody case that involves a child who is at least 12 and who would like to make his or her opinion in the matter heard, you can request that the judge in your case speak with him or her. The judge will listen to what your child has to say and will take it under careful consideration, but the custody determination remains the judge’s decision (which may or may not be affected by your child’s preferences).