In Washington State, a court will consider the opinion of your child–though the age and maturity of your child will also be taken into consideration. For example, while some judges will hear the preferences of an 11-year-old child, judges may not as seriously consider the child’s wants as they would a 17-year-old child who voices his or her opinion. Ultimately, the judge will decide upon a parenting plan based on the child’s overall best interests. In some cases, the child’s best interests are not the child’s preference.
Here are just a few considerations when thinking about your child testifying as part of your child custody case:
- How will the child testify? In some cases, a child will have a private conversation with the judge in his or her chamber–a non-formal and more comfortable environment where the judge can get a better general feel for what the child needs. In other cases, the child may be asked to testify in open court, which may be more difficult.
- Does the child understand his or her needs? Some parents are surprised when they hear what their child had to say–and could be deeply hurt. Some children are too young or immature to know what is best for them, and may pick the parent who will be less strict or who has not been their primary caretaker.
- Will the child be emotionally affected by testifying? Some children are at an age in which testifying could be very harmful for them, and some children are too sensitive to be asked what their wishes are when it comes to their divorcing parents. While some children would rather voice their opinion, others may wish to not have anything to do with the parenting plan. If your child is old enough, talk to him or her about how he or she feels.
For most parents, the child custody case and parenting plan formation is the most painful and upsetting part of a divorce or breakup–no one wants to see their children make tough decisions, and no one wants their children to feel like the stability of their home is gone. To get help from an experienced Seattle child custody attorney, contact the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny today: 425-460-0550.