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Can a Child in Texas Choose Who Which Parent to Live With?

There are many misconceptions in Texas custody law about a child’s preference in times of a divorce. Some parents believe that a child can choose who they want to live with.

While a child can have some say in a custody decision, ultimately, it’s up to the court to decide the best interests of the child. Here’s what you need to know about a child’s preference in child custody determinations in Texas from the family law attorney team at Benouis Law Group.

Can the child decide which parent to live with in a Texas custody case?

While a child may have significant input into the determination of a custody decision in Texas, the child doesn’t make the final decision about what parent to live with. It’s ultimately up to the judge to issue a custody order that reflects the best interests of the child.

A child over the age of 12 can express their preference, and their opinion should have significant weight in the court’s decision. However, the court may consider the entire circumstances in order to determine whether to fashion a court order that follows the child’s wishes.

Texas law for child preference in child custody cases

Texas law for expressing a child’s preference in a custody case comes from Texas family law 153.009 and from the Texas court decision Holley v. Adams, 544 S.W.2d 367 (Tex 1976). Texas law 153.009 says that the court must interview a child who is 12 years or older about their preference

The interview of the child takes place in the judge’s chambers. In rare circumstances, a child may testify in open court. Either attorney may request the presence of a court reporter to record the child’s statements.

Child preference is only one factor in a child custody determination

In the Holley v. Adams case, the Texas court set out the factors that the court considers when they determine child custody. The preference of the child is only one of the factors when determining child custody. Although a change in the child’s preference alone can be grounds to revisit the custody order, if the court doesn’t believe that the change is in the child’s best interest, the court isn’t going to approve the custody change.

Changing child custody based on a child’s preference

If you want to pursue a custody change based on the change in a child’s preference, it’s important to carefully prepare your case. You should walk into court with supporting evidence and strong legal arguments for the change in custody.

If you want to change custody in your case, the family law attorney team at Benouis Law Group can help you evaluate the facts of your case and gather the evidence that you need to make your request successful.

Contact Benouis Law Group at 512-764-3932 today for a confidential consultation about your case.