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Can Kids Choose Who They Want to Live With During a California Divorce

Posted on October 1st, 2021

Can Kids Choose Who They Want to Live With During a CA Divorce

At the Harris Family Law Group, our Los Angeles divorce attorneys know how important our clients’ children are when they are making decisions about their personal and family futures.

When spouses who share minor children are considering divorce, the kids’ best interests become the priority, which can lead to difficult conversations about child custody and child support that may be facilitated with the help of our skilled Los Angeles family law attorneys.

Here is what you need to know about how our California family courts determine the most appropriate parenting plans and your child’s ability to make decisions during the proceedings.

How Does the California Court Determine Who Gets Custody of the Children During a Divorce?

If parents cannot agree on child custody agreements on their own, or during mediation, the courts will intercede and make court-ordered decisions for them.

The factors a judge may consider can include, but are not limited to:

  • Each parent’s history of caregiving and overall bond with the children
  • Each parent’s ability to properly care for the children
  • The child’s health and safety
  • The stability of each parent’s household
  • Either parent’s time spent away from the home
  • Either parent’s history of abuse, neglect, drugs or alcohol use, or domestic violence
  • Which parent is more likely to encourage a relationship between the children and their other parent

After weighing each factor on its merit, the judge will determine each parent’s legal rights, physical custody, parenting plans, visitation agreements, and child support details.

Will My Kids Have to Testify About Their Custodial Preferences in Court?

The State of California Family Code 3042 says a child “of sufficient age” which is listed at the age of 14 or older — may provide an opinion about which parent they would like to live with.

However, that does mean your teenager can unequivocally decide where he or she lives.

The judge will also never force a child to testify, but if he or she chooses to, the court may limit the line of questioning to ensure the child feels safe and never threatened during their testimony.

Alternatively. the judge may appoint a third party, including a counselor or child advocate, to speak with the child and then testify in court about their discussion.

The judge may also speak with the child directly behind closed doors if the parents agree to allow the conversation to occur although both attorneys and the court staff must be present to record the conversation to protect the rights of the children.

Contact Our Los Angeles Child Custody Attorneys at Harris Family Law Group Today

If you have children and are considering a divorce, contact our family law attorneys in Los Angeles at the Harris Family Law Group today to discuss the details of your case during a free consultation by calling 310-745-8644.