Can Children Choose Which Parent To Live With In Arizona?
How Courts Determine The Child’s Wishes In Child Custody Decisions
When going through a divorce, parents have to decide on a reasonable yet fair solution for the distribution of parenting time. Children usually prefer to stay in the same house with their parents, but this might not be practical in many situations.
Sometimes, children have to live with one of their parents rather than both. Whether it happens as a part of a divorce or as a matter concerning child custody, this can be confusing to children. Furthermore, some parents might not always understand the laws about child custody in Arizona. In that case, a Tucson family law lawyer is more than necessary.
This article discusses whether children can choose which parent they want to live with or not and how courts determine what is reasonable parenting time during the separation period.
Considering Your Child’s Wishes
According to Arizona law, a child doesn’t have to be interviewed in court. However, the court can find a way to determine the child’s wishes.
Judges are against a child testifying in court because it can be too stressful for a minor. Therefore, the court must determine first if the child is of an appropriate age and level of maturity to testify.
How an Arizona’s Family Court Consider a Child’s Voice
Arizona judges are often aware of the issues a child can go through when declaring their choice in front of their parents. That’s why minors are not allowed to testify about their choices in open court.
The minor can testify in the judge’s chambers. This way, they will not be influenced by either parent to tell another story. This will also help them decide according to their desires.
A court reporter may be necessary to record the interview. Nonetheless, the judge can decide if the recording will be kept private. The parents (with the help of an Avondale family law lawyer) are the ones who decide if the judge can interview their child out of the courtroom.
There are other methods to get a child’s opinion, including getting a custody evaluator to schedule an interview with the child. The evaluator will make a report summarizing what the child decides.
Another method is to assign an attorney to represent the child’s interest alone. The lawyer will act as an advocate for the child’s position in the same way as the lawyers for the parents.
One last method is to assign a guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem makes sure the rights of the minor are protected, although he or she does not speak on the child’s behalf.
How Old Should The Child Be?
There’s not an exact age where a child’s opinion becomes crucial, but teenagers are usually more considered because they can express themselves more distinctly. That’s because of their maturity and experience in comparison to younger kids.
In Arizona, there is no particular age that allows the child to decide the custodial preference. Judges must make case-by-case analyses depending on specific circumstances.
Besides, there are other factors to consider, such as:
- The wishes of the child to testify (including if they have a Glendale family law lawyer for help)
- How the child will be affected (psychologically).
- How relevant the child’s testimony is for the judge to reach a final decision.
How Will The Court Consider The Custodial Preferences?
The court will consider the child’s custodial preference if it is an “intelligent” decision. In other words, it must be something bound to last like a loving relationship, and not something short-term. Preference must also be based on crucial matters and not superficial preferences like allowing them to watch TV at night.
Another thing to examine is if the child was threatened to prefer one of the parents. The court will be extremely careful in considering a child’s wishes if it seems like the minor has been instructed somehow.
The court may consider a minor’s custodial preference if it is expressed intelligently. However, the court is not compelled to grant that preference if it is not in the best interest of the minor.
Contact a Trusted Phoenix Family Law Attorney
In conclusion, a child may choose which parent to live with if they live in Arizona, but it’s not an easy matter. If you have more questions about this topic or you want to solve an issue regarding family law, contact My AZ Lawyers.
Our team of experienced lawyers can help you find the best solution for your issues in family law. Contact us today to get a FREE same-day consultation.
20325 N 51st Avenue Suite #134, Building 5
Glendale, AZ 85308
Office: (602) 509-0955
2 East Congress St., Suite #900-6A
Tucson, AZ 85701
Office: (520) 441-1450
12725 W. Indian School Rd., Ste E, #101
Avondale, AZ 85392
Office: (623) 469-6603