The Children’s Wishes, Keeping Children Together
Not all states consider the wishes of a child when it comes to awarding custody. If a child’s wishes are considered it is only at a certain age and at the discretion of the court. If a child is old enough, but does not appear to be mature enough, his or her wishes will not be considered.
The child’s preference, the expressed preference to live or spend more time with one parent, or his or her wish, the expressed desire to live with one parent, is not binding. Courts are not bound by the preferences of a child. Judges know that young children can easily be persuaded by one parent or the other to make choices not in their own best interest. Sadly, this is most likely the case in situations where one parent makes allegations of child abuse or neglect against the other. A judge, cloaked in the mantle of all knowing parent, heads off this difficultly by ignoring the wishes and preferences of the children.
Judges know that children are not the best witnesses. They can easily become confused about times and dates and the sequences of event. Through no fault of their own, their own emotional distress impeaches their reliability.
A child should never be put in a position to choose one parent over the other because he or she may not want to make this decision and not realize his or her own best interests. If a child is mature enough and offers to make a choice, then it should at least be considered.
Judges don’t award custody of the children to the mother because she is a "good" person or a better parent, nor do they withhold custody from the father because he is a "bad" person or an inadequate father. Judges make every effort to reduce the mental anguish children suffer, so they generally prefer to keep children together. This avoids the appearance that the children are prizes awarded to the better parent.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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