Child custody is one of the most challenging issues parents face when divorcing. You want to find an arrangement that's the healthiest and most stable for your child, so you may wonder if your child legally has a say in which parent they live with. The Texas Family Code gives guidelines for how children can make their preferences heard when their family settles the custody agreement in court. If you're in the middle of a divorce in Texas, you should understand the state's custody laws so that you know what to expect from your case.
Texas Family Code 153.009
Section 153.009 of the Texas Family Code states that children aged 12 and older will meet with the judge to discuss their wishes when their parents are divorcing. During this meeting, the judge will ask the child which parent they would prefer to live with and how frequently they would like to visit their other parent. This is also an opportunity for the judge to hear any other information that may affect their ruling.
The judge isn't required to meet privately with children under the age of 12. However, they can choose to if they believe it's in the best interests of the child.
This does not mean that children can choose which parent to live with, though. The court will take the child's preferences into consideration, but there are also many other factors that are involved in the decision.
Texas Family Code 153.009 was introduced in 2010 to replace section 153.008. The old section stated that children aged 12 and older could file the name of the parent they preferred to live with as evidence during the court proceedings. Like the current law, though, this was just one of many pieces in the case.
Can Children Make Decisions About Visiting Their Other Parent?
Your family must follow the custody and visitation agreement set by the court. This is an official legal plan for your family, so your children cannot decide whether or not to visit their other parent. If all the parties agree on a change in schedule, though, the family can adjust the visitation agreement. When your children turn 18, they can make their own decisions about their living situation and about visiting their parents.
When you're going through a divorce, your child's well-being is probably at the forefront of your mind. This is a stressful experience for everyone, and you want your kids to be as happy as possible with the arrangement. Although your children don't have complete control over which parent they live with, if they're 12 or older, the Texas court will take their opinion into consideration.
The Law Office of Derek S. Ritchie, PLLC is ready to help you with your custody issues. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, call (210) 761-4943 or visit us online.