When it comes to custody arrangements, it is important to understand the role children can play in making decisions about their living arrangements.
Texas has specific guidelines in place to consider the preferences of children, but these preferences are just one factor among many in determining custody.
The legal age
In Texas, the legal age at which a child can choose which parent they want to live with is 12 years old. This means that once a child reaches this age, their preference may carry some weight in court when determining custody arrangements. However, the child’s decision is not the sole factor in the court’s decision-making process.
The best interests of the child
The court primarily considers the best interests of the child when determining custody arrangements. The court will evaluate various elements, such as the child’s emotional and physical needs, the ability of each parent to provide a stable environment, and any history of abuse or neglect. If there are concerns about the child’s safety and well-being, or if the child’s decision seems coerced, the court may override the child’s preference.
The role of a guardian ad litem
In some cases, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem, a neutral third party, to represent the child’s interests. This person interviews the child, observes the parents and makes recommendations to the court based on their findings.
In 2020, 21% of children lived with their mother only and 4.5% lived with their father only. If a child has a parental preference, the court strives to ensure that the child can voice their choice while also safeguarding their well-being.