The court always looks for what is the best for a child when making custody decisions. It will always use multiple factors to make a determination.
Your child certainly can make the judge aware of his or her preference when it comes to custody decisions, but the judge does not have to abide by those wishes. The State Bar of Texas explains the final decision in a child custody matter is always up to the court.
There is a prevailing misconception that once a child reaches a certain age, he or she is able to make custody choices. This is untrue because the decision always remains with the court. The judge also does not always look at age when determining whether to speak with a child. In general, the judge can ask your child his or her feelings at any age and take your child’s wishes into consideration.
The law says at age 12 your child has the right to inform the judge of his or her opinion, and this is where the confusion comes in. People are misunderstanding the law. Basically, the judge can always listen to your child, but when he or she reaches 12 years old, the judge must allow your child to express his or her wishes.
The goal of a custody hearing is not to upset the child. It is to figure out the arrangement that will best take care of your child’s needs, including emotional. If your child has strong feelings about the situation, he or she has the right to speak up at age 12.