In parental responsibility proceedings, which are also called child custody hearings, children may make it known to parents what their preferences are as to where they want to live and how often they wish to see each parent.
If your child has opinions on this issue, a judge will consider the child’s wishes; however, the child does not have the ultimate say.
Illinois Law on a Child’s Preferences
When determining parental responsibility, a court must consider the “best interests of the child.” Illinois law lists several factors that courts must take into consideration. One of these factors is the child’s wishes.
Thus, the child’s wishes will be weighed, but they are not the only thing a court will consider. Courts understand that both parents have the right to have some decision-making and parenting time with their children.
Even if a child claims that he or she hates one parent or does not wish to spend a lot of time with the parent, a court will likely allow the parent to be involved in the child’s life.
How Will the Court Decide How Much Weight to Give?
The main thing a court will look at is the age and maturity of the child. If the child makes a strong argument for living with one parent and the argument is based in fact, those wishes will carry more weight with the court.
For example, if the child is in a particular school or extracurricular activity that can only be attended if the child is living with one parent, a court would likely give more weight to the child’s wishes.
A court will also be aware that children can be manipulated by the parents to express certain preferences and will be looking for these signs.
Will the Child Have to Testify?
Many parents wish to shield their children from having to testify in court. Testifying in court can be traumatic and can make a young person feel as though they have to choose sides. Also, both parents’ attorneys will be able to ask questions of the child, which can sometimes be an intense situation.
While it is always up to the judge, often a child will not be forced to testify as to his or her preferences. A judge may wish to speak to the child in chambers. Another option is for an expert witness, like a psychologist, to speak with the child and then relay that conversation to the court.
On the other hand, a child may be called to testify if the proceedings become contentious because all facts that the judge uses to make his ruling should be contained in the record. This is an issue that should be discussed with an attorney based on the facts of your individual case.
Contact a San Jose Child Custody Lawyer
The experienced San Jose, CA child custody attorney at Dominion Law Group, LLP has represented parents who are the preferred parent by the child as well as the parent who has a more attenuated relationship with the child. It both scenarios, the parents have arguments and law of their side, and a skilled family law attorney can advocate for the parent in court. To set up your first appointment with our firm, call 408-288-5592.