Can Kids Decide Who to Live with Following a Divorce?
As a parent going through a divorce, you should always spare a thought for your kids. This can be a particularly traumatic time for them, and you'll want to ensure they can come through this as best as possible in the circumstances. If the children are older, they may want their own say in what happens next, and you may wonder whether they can determine the outcome. Unfortunately, the answer is not clear-cut, and there are many factors to consider when thinking about a child's wishes. How will a court typically approach this?
Children to the Fore
When matters go in front of a family law court, the judges will primarily be concerned with the children's welfare. Certainly, they'll work with the parents to help achieve a good outcome all round, but they will put most of their focus on the kids.
An Ideal Scenario
In an ideal world, the children would spend quality time with their parents equitably. The court wants the children to have a meaningful relationship with both adults, so long as they are protected from any psychological or physical harm.
Weighing up the Options
The court will certainly take into account the ability of each parent to look after the child as well as their attitude towards this. Judges will also look at how these particular circumstances may impact the child and what type of relationship each child has with each parent. If the child has strong views either way, this will always be taken into account, but it will not be the deciding factor.
Dealing with the Family Report
Remember, children are not required to appear in front of the court. Instead, they'll need to meet with an appointed representative. Typically, a psychologist or social worker will discuss everything with parents and children and then frame a report. They'll give the court their recommendations, which will then be considered before a judgement is made. While the child's wishes will be considered, the final decision will be based on many factors.
What to Do Next
If you and your former partner are at odds with regard to looking after the children in future, you will need to approach this very carefully. After all, it can be difficult to guess how a judge will rule given all the evidence that will eventually come before them. So, discuss the matter with a family lawyer and ensure that you get proper representation throughout the process.