Can a child express their wishes in a child custody case in Carlsbad or North County?
Here in California and across the United States, there are statutes which require a court to consider the “best interests of a child” during all phases of child custody and parenting time cases. California recently adopted additional laws which increase the weight of the wishes of the child in the eyes of the Court, especially if the child is 14 years of age or older.
A child is now readily allowed to speak with the judge or else other procedures are adopted so the child’s wishes and preference can be known and considered by the Court. Part of California’s statutes address the Court’s ability to hear a child express their wishes in a child case. Other sections provide weight to the child’s perspective:
For example, “If a child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to custody or visitation, the court shall consider, and give due weight to, the wishes of the child in making an order granting or modifying custody or visitation. If the child is 14 years of age or older and wishes to address the court regarding custody or visitation, the child shall be permitted to do so, unless the court determines that doing so is not in the child’s best interests.”
The statute also addresses children who are under the age of 14:
“Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to prevent a child who is less than 14 years of age from addressing the court regarding custody or visitation, if the court determines that is appropriate pursuant to the child’s best interests. If the court precludes the calling of any child as a witness, the court shall provide alternative means of obtaining input from the child and other information regarding the child’s preferences.”
It is important to note that none of these provisions shall be construed to require that a child express their wishes in a child custody case or to provide other input regarding custody or visitation.
“Children’s participation in family law matters must be considered on a case-by-case basis. No statutory mandate, rule, or practice requires children to participate in court or prohibits them from doing so. When a child wishes to participate, the court should find a balance between protecting the child, the statutory duty to consider the wishes of and input from the child, and the probative value of the child’s input while ensuring all parties’ due process rights to challenge evidence relied upon by the court in making custody decisions.”
Can a child express their wishes in a child custody case in Carlsbad or North County? Yes, and in many cases the testimony of the child will carry substantial legal weight. It is important at all times to protect the best interests of your children during a divorce and in the months and years to come. It is also important to work with experienced, proven Certified Family Law Specialists at Burke & Domercq who have extensive legal skill in child custody and parenting time cases.