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Child’s Preference: Child Custody

Child’s Preference: Child Custody

By Jeff J. Horn – Divorce Attorney

Child’s Preference: Child Custody

Most children when asked by a judge during a child custody interview proceeding will express their love for both parents. The child’s preference is usually to be in the custody of both, which is unfortunately not possible anymore. But the idea is that they want to be with both parents and both divorcing sides must be able to recognize this. 

Custody Fights

It bears repeating that very, very few custody battles are actually tried to conclusion.  There are only 168 hours per week.  Typically, children sleep eight hours per day (56 hours per week).  They attend school for approximately seven hours per day, five days per week. Together, that adds up to about 91 hours, or more than half of an entire week.  Almost every case involves the non-custodial parent enjoying every other weekend, which is another 16 hours per week.  That comes to 107 hours, which leaves 61 hours for the children to participate in extracurricular activities, homework, play, eat, brush their teeth, take a bath, and do their chores.  The point is, you cannot raise your children by the numbers, certainly when thinking about a child’s preference, they do not use numbers.  Dividing up the precise time when the children are not in school and not sleeping is the task of the custody evaluator and the court in an instance where custody is disputed.

What does the Child Think?

Once of an age to have meaningful input, the children may well be asked to participate in the decision of where they will live. If you have teenagers, they often will have strong, wide-ranging opinions on where they would want to live, so I generally find a custody dispute over them useless and counterproductive. If the children are younger, investigation into their thoughts and feelings may very well be beneficial and is often used by the court to establish key stipulations. Some judges will talk to the kids directly, while others find it more uncomfortable to do so. What happens in lieu of that is the hiring of a phycologist who will spend time figuring out what the child seems to want and prefer.

Moving the Children

Approximately one in four separated or divorced families wind up living more than one hour away from the community in which the family resided together.  This means the non-custodial parent moves one hour away from the family home or the children move out of town with the child custodial parent. My advice to non-custodial parents is to permit the custodial parent to move, and to move right along with them.  This advice is rarely warmly received by the non-custodial parent, since the non-custodial parent probably already feels used and the last thing, he or she wants to do is have to follow the other parent. As the children grow and mature, their preference may be expressed.  They may wish to reside with the other parent.

Concepts concerning parental choice.

The child’s stated custodial preference can be understood primarily to be a psychological statement by the child of how he or she has resolved (or failed to resolve) the inevitable loyalty conflict that divorce and separation creates.

Divorce: Mistakes Made by Women.

Divorce and Stay for the Children.

Thanks to Horn Law Group, LLC intern Noah Hilsdorf.