Many parents initially worry about how their split will impact them and the ability to see their kids as often as they’d like. They tend to think about what works best for their schedule or which arrangement fits their lifestyle when drafting a parenting plan. They should really consider what will be in the best interest of their kids like a judge will do.
Once parents understand the factors that judges weigh in deciding what custodial (conservatorship here in Texas) arrangement is best for a child, they will often ask if their son or daughter can voice their own preferences. Will the judge ask your child their wishes before appointing one (or both) of you as sole or joint managing or possessory conservator over your child?
Does Texas law allow your child to state their custody preferences in court?
Texas law does not explicitly give children the authority to choose which parent they want to reside with; however, state code references the importance of judges interviewing children 12 and over about their conservatorship preferences in their chambers.
State law also details the following other points regarding children and the role they might play in a judge’s decision-making regarding conservatorship:
Judges are unlikely to ask a parent if their child may want to voice their preferences unless they specifically file a motion requesting a right to do so.
Any discussion that a child has with the judge forms part of the case record, and a judge can, therefore, weigh that information when rendering any decisions.
Judges must always make decisions that they deem to be in a child’s best interests regardless of whether they interview a child or not.
Child custody is one of many matters that can easily become contentious. Things don’t have to go that way, though. The best thing that you can do is put yourself in your child’s shoes and try to make decisions in their best interests. If you find that you and your co-parent are unable to see eye-to-eye on such matters, then you’ll want to be deliberate in crafting an argument for the court as to what conservatorship arrangements are best. This will give the judge something else to weigh in addition to your child’s statements.