If you are going through a divorce or custody case in Arizona, you know that the decision the judge will make is complex. There are a long list of factors the court must consider when determining what is in the best interest of your child, the standard by which custody decisions are made.
One of the factors the court must consider is your child’s opinion about custody. This does not mean your child gets to decide how custody will be arranged. Instead, it means that the court must hear and consider your child’s opinion as just one piece of the decision-making process. Allowing a child to decide something as important as custody would be too much responsibility for a minor. Children also change their minds (sometimes daily!) about custody as they grow older, react to household rules, and as their interests and personalities change. The court makes a decision that is meant to be in the long-term best interest of your child, whereas what your child right now thinks could be very temporary.
The weight the court gives your child’s input varies with age and maturity. What a 17-year-old thinks will be much more important than what a 6-year-old thinks. Not only are teens more likely to have a clear opinion, but they are more likely to refuse to comply with a custody plan that they disagree with.
It is very important that you do not try to sway your child’s opinion about the situation in anticipation of the court hearing your child’s preference. In particular, do not promise your child a puppy, a bicycle, or a car if he will say he wants to live with you. It’s very likely that your promise will be mentioned to the court and it will reflect poorly on you as a parent.
If you are facing a custody case or a divorce in Maricopa County, call the Sampair Group for superior representation. Our attorneys are ready to help you.