Do children’s wishes matter in a child custody dispute?

| Mar 22, 2021 | family law |

Parents in Georgia need to make many decisions for the children as they raise them. When children are younger, they do not generally have the mental capacity to always make decisions which are in their best interests. However, as they grow older and mature, they are in a better position to make decisions for themselves. They are not always the best decision, but they have a better idea of what works well for them and what does not work well.

If the parents end up going through a divorce, they are separating and there needs to be decisions made about which parent will have custody of the children and also when the children will be with each parent. There are many factors that are analyzed to determine what is in the best interests of the children when making these decisions and one of them is the wishes of the children. However, how much weight their wishes make on the ultimate decision depends on their age.

Age when children’s wishes matter

As stated above, as children grow older they are in a better place to make more decisions on their own. This is true during a custody determination as well. When children are 11 years old, they can begin to give their input regarding which parent they would like to live with after the divorce. However, until they turn 14, the judge determines how much weight to give their opinion and do not need to follow their wishes.

Once children reach the age of 14, they have the right to chose which parent they will live with after the divorce. Their opinion is just the presumption though and if a judge determines that their wishes are not in their best interests, they can still make a different decision for the children.

There are many complications that arise for parents after they divorce and they have to make many difficult decisions regarding how they will continue to raise their children. As children grow older though they have more of a say in the decisions regarding their lives. Experienced attorneys understand these complicated determinations and may be able to guide one through it.