Wishes of the Children in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas and Oklahoma Child Custody Matters
When a divorce or child custody case is taking place, some may tell their attorney that their child wants to reside with them. Wrongly, they then sometimes assume that they have an easy case.
The truth s that child custody is determined by looking at the best interests of the child in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas and Oklahoma. In deciding what is in the best interests of the child, judges are to look at the statutory factors. There are different factors look at from their health and safety; their emotional needs; the co-parenting skills of the parents; the need for interaction with siblings and other relatives; the child’s adjustment to home and school; and other factors.
It is true that the wishes of the child is one of the factors that the court can consider in determining what is in their best interests. However, there are many other factors that the court can consider as well.
In sum, kids do not get to pick where they get to live. On the other hand, a court can certainly consider the wishes of the child. In doing so, they have to determine whether their desire is based on legitimate reasons or not.
If the reasons make sense, like they will have a more stable home with one parent, can get a better education and/or emotional support in one parent’s home versus the other, a judge may find this persuasive. The age of the children can also come into play as well in terms of the weight the judge place’s on their wishes. The older the child is, the more likely a judge may be to put weight on their wishes.
Conversely, a judge could put little weight on the wishes of the child where the reasons are not convincing. This could be the case where a child wants to live with one parent because they can do what they want at a particular parent’s house; do not have to do their homework; can drink or do drugs; or other improper reasons. There are also extreme cases where a child could suffer from parental alienation.
Guardian ad Litems and Child Custody Evaluations Can Sometimes Help
A guardian ad litem can also work to understand the desires of the child to determine whether they are proper. A child custody evaluation can also be helpful in some cases as well. In either instance, the judge can sometimes be advised of the wishes of the child without them having to testify in court.
In the final analysis, the wishes of a child is one factor that the court can consider in determining custody. But it does not mean that the court has to do what the child desires at the same time.
Missouri, Illinois, Kansas and Oklahoma Child Custody Lawyers Focusing on the Best Interests of the Child
If you are going through a child custody case, Stange Law Firm, PC can help. You can contact us online or at the numbers below. We have locations in St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia, Springfield, Wichita, Tulsa and beyond in the Midwest.