Strong Legal Advocacy, Personal Service

Does a child’s wishes matter when deciding custody?

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | Divorce

If you are going through a divorce in Arizona, you may wonder whether your child’s wishes or preferences will be considered in determining custody arrangements. The answer to that depends on your specific situation, as explained below.

A child’s wishes may be taken into account during custody proceedings if they are deemed old and mature enough to make reasonable preferences on parenting time and legal decision-making. The law does not specify how old a child should be in order to state their preferences, so it’s usually up to a judge to decide if a child’s preferences should be considered.

Courts are not bound by what a child wants

Children can be easily manipulated or coerced to express specific preferences that may not be in their best interests during custody proceedings. As such, a judge does not have to follow the child’s wishes, even if they are of suitable age and maturity.

Arizona courts prioritize the child’s best interests when making custody decisions and will consider the child’s preferences alongside other relevant factors. The main objective is to make a custody decision that will protect the child’s safety, well-being and development: Some of the factors the court will consider include:

  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The parents’ ability to cooperate as co-parents
  • The child’s adjustment to home, school and community
  • Evidence of domestic violence or child abuse
  • The mental and physical health of everyone involved, among others

Learning more about what goes into custody decisions can help you navigate the process more effectively and work towards an arrangement that puts your child’s interests above everything else. Do not hesitate to seek legal guidance if you have any custody-related questions or concerns. It can help you understand your options while protecting your parental rights.