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Lehighton Estate, Family & Workers’ Comp Lawyer > Blog > Child Custody > Can Children State a Preference in Custody Cases?

Can Children State a Preference in Custody Cases?


It is true when they say that divorce is hardest on the kids. If your child has stated that they would rather live with you or their other parent, you may wonder if a judge will take their preference into consideration. You may think that if your child’s preference is taken into consideration, it will make the matter easier on them. Or, you may be worried that your child wants to live with their other parent. So, is your child’s preference a factor in custody cases? As with most legal issues, the answer is that it depends.

When Will the Courts Consider a Child’s Preference 

Certain states place a minimum age on when a child’s preference will be taken into consideration. Pennsylvania does not have such a law. Instead, the courts will consider the age, maturity level, and intelligence of the child, as well as the child’s reasoning for choosing one parent over the other.

Judges give serious consideration to a child’s reasoning for wanting to live with one parent. For example, if a child only prefers to live with one parent because they do not have a lot of rules and they are very relaxed, a judge is unlikely to give a lot of weight to their preference. On the other hand, if a child wants to live with one parent because they will have to move away from their school and friends otherwise, a judge will consider that reason more seriously.

It is important for parents to know that regardless of a child’s maturity level, age, intelligence, or reason for wanting to live with one parent, their preference is never a determining factor. It is just one more factor a judge will consider. In some cases, though, the preference of a child may be enough to favor one parent over the other.

Children’s Testimony in Custody Hearings 

After hearing that a child has a preference for living with one parent over the other, it is natural to worry that they will have to testify in court. Fortunately, the courts know that forcing a child to testify in open court can be very detrimental to them. To avoid any negative impacts, there are other options.

If a child is older, proceedings may be moved to the judge’s chambers. Here a court reporter is sometimes present to obtain the child’s testimony. If a child is very young, the meeting between the judge and the child may be even more informal. The judge may simply sit with the child and have a conversation, without a court reporter present, about their preference and reasoning for it.

Our Child Custody Lawyer in Lehighton Can Help with Your Case 

Of all the disputes that happen in family law, those involving child custody are some of the most heated. At The Law Office of Kim M. Gillen, P.C., our Lehighton child custody lawyer can help you through yours and ensure you receive the best possible outcome. Call us now at 484-613-0011 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and to get the legal help you need.



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