When parents can’t reach a child custody agreement between themselves, a family law judge will have to make a determination for you. In every state, judges are required to base their decisions solely on the best interests of the child. But how do they decide what that means, and what if the children themselves have a preference? In many states, including Alabama, the judge may elect to factor in the child’s wishes, depending on their age and maturity level.
Do Children Get to Choose Who Has Custody?
When Judges May Consider a Child’s Wishes
Some states require judges to consider a child’s preferences if they are above a certain age, but Alabama gives the court more discretion. The judge may elect to take a child’s testimony if they decide they are old and mature enough to make an informed decision.
Are Courts Bound by a Child’s Decision?
While the judge may decide to hear a child’s preference, they aren’t bound to grant those wishes and may disregard them completely. For instance, if the child wants to live with one parent because the other enforces more discipline, the court will likely focus on other factors to determine their best interest.
Will My Child Have to Testify in Court?
Family law courts generally prefer not to have children formally testify. Instead, the judge will probably ask to speak with them in their chambers with the parents’ attorneys present. This arrangement is usually less stressful for the children and gives them the opportunity to speak freely.
If you’re involved in a child custody dispute, The Law Office of Peter A. McInish, LLC in Dothan, AL, will provide the integrity, compassion, and skillful advocacy you need. He understands how important these issues will be and is dedicated to helping achieve the best possible results for you and your family. Pete McInish graduated from The University of Alabama in 1980 and received his J.D. in 1983 from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. He became a member of the Alabama State Bar in 1983 and has been helping families in Dothan, Headland, Cottonwood, and Midland City ever since. To learn more about his family law expertise and to schedule a consultation, call his offices today at (334) 671-2555. Like their Facebook page for legal perspective.