Should you give your child a choice in parenting time scheduling? Will the Court listen to the child’s input when deciding a child custody and parenting time case as part of your divorce or post-decree modification?
This is a complex question. Co-parents must carefully reflect on the individual personality and emotional make up of the child. Some children may not want to appear to take a side or may feel stress and pressure to pick.
In other cases, if you give your child a choice in parenting time scheduling it could be a growth opportunity for the child while providing an option for them to participate in (and therefore have a bit of “skin in the game”) the ultimate schedule.
Give a lot of consideration to how you present the various options. These conversations should focus more upon the time frames of exchanges and not the amount of time with each parent. (Note: San Diego Family Courts prefer to see a fairly equal split in parenting time and an equal amount of quality time with each parent).
Develop two or three potential schedules which work for the two of you as co-parents. Present the issue to the child such as “would you like to switch houses once a week, or would you prefer every four days or every other weekend?
We find that some children want to spend time with both parents and prefer more frequent changes while others prefer to stay in one home or the other before an exchange to the other parent.
The Court will absolutely listen to the intentions of a child. The older and more sound their reasoning the more weight the Court will give to their input.
If you give your child a choice in parenting time scheduling you may not only have a more harmonious and unified resolution, the child is more likely to abide by the agreement for the future. This results in a much lower possibility for expensive and time consuming post-decree modification.