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Can the court ask the child about their custody preferences?

On Behalf of | Feb 9, 2023 | Child Custody

It is unfortunate that in many Texas family law cases in which child custody and possession are in dispute, the child is caught in the middle. This is often perceived as happening in contentious cases where the parents are engaging in extended discord. However, it can also happen in cases where the parents are on relatively good terms.

The child is deeply impacted by the court’s determination and, in many instances, their own desires are pushed to the side. For situations where the child would like to have a say, it is important to understand what state law says about the court interviewing a child in chambers. This could have a profound influence on the case.

Key aspects of the court interviewing a child in a family law case

The court can interview the child to solicit their opinions and discuss their feelings as to how they might want the custody and possession decision to go. There are basic requirements if this is done.

The interview will be done in chambers and happens through a request from the child’s ad litem attorney or the amicus attorney. The court can decide on its own to conduct the interview. The child must be at least 12 years old to take part in the interview in chambers. It is possible that a child under 12 could take part in an interview if the court believes they are mature enough.

The court will maintain its right to assess the case and decide on the child’s best interests regardless of whether there is an interview. Legal counsel can be present during the interview. If requested, the interview can be part of the case record.

Knowing all aspects of a child custody case may require qualified representation

The “best interests of the child” is consistently mentioned as part of a child custody case. The child’s feelings may take a backseat to the parental back and forth. To ensure the child can express their wishes, the court will consider interviewing them in chambers.

The parents must know the law and how this can factor in with the court’s decision. While many children have the capability to express their preferences, there could be other issues at play such as one parent not being as strict as the other or one parent having forged a closer relationship with the child. To try and reach an acceptable result and ensure the parental rights are protected, it is useful to consult with those experienced in all areas of family law.