Custody decisions are one of the most difficult parts of a divorce. The court aims to keep children out of the middle of things throughout the entire process because it is not healthy for children to be in this position. The court encourages children to speak up, though, if they have an opinion. According to The Michigan Courts, the court will allow a child to state his or her preference when it comes to custody matters, but the court may not always consider it.
The court will look at a few things about the child to see if he or she has the ability to truthfully express his or her desire of with which parent to live. The court will want to be sure that the child fully understands what his or her decision means and the impact that decision will have.
It will also consider if anything may influence the child’s opinion and if the choice the child makes stays consistent over time. For example, if the child says he or she wants to live with you during one court appearance, but then the next time in court, the child says he or she wants to live with the other parent, then this shows inconsistency and that the child may not really understand or know what he or she wants. The judge will also look at where the child is spending time currently in relation to the decision. For example, the child says he or she wants to live with you after spending time with you and says he or she wants to live with the other parent after spending time with him or her.
The bottom line is that the court wants to see the child knows what he or she wants without anyone trying to influence the decision. The ultimate decision to consider a child’s request remains with the court because legally, a child has no say in custody matters.