Legal Question in Family Law in Texas

how old does a child have to be to chose which parent they wanna live with

Asked on 5/10/14, 10:28 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Kevin Henderson Kevin Henderson Attorney at Law

It is a common misconception that the child gets to "choose" which parent they want to live with. The law says that a child age 12 or over may express his wishes or preference regarding the person to have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child. This is only one factor in the determination to be made by the judge (or jury). The judge is free to entirely disregard the child's wishes, if the judge chooses to do so. The primary issue will always be the best interest of the child, regardless of what wish or preference may be expressed.

Judges differ tremendously on the weight they give to the child's preference and will also consider other factors such as the child's age, level of maturity and whether the judge believes the child has been "coached" or otherwise persuaded to express a particular choice. Some judges absolutely hate interviewing kids on this issue. Others absolutely hate the child being put in this spot by the parent. Always keep in mind that this really isn't the child's choice at all - it's a factor in the judge's decision.

Obviously, the older the child the more weight will be given to his or her wishes. Big difference between a 12 year old and a 17 year old (usually).

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Answered on 5/10/14, 11:53 am

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