Cari Brownlee

At What Age Can A Child Choose Which Parent To Live With In Texas?

In Children Issues, Contested Divorces on February 5, 2011 at 5:17 am

I am frequently asked at what age can a child choose which parent he/she wants to live with.  There is clearly a misunderstanding about children choosing who they want to live with. In Texas, children do not get to choose who they want to live with.  Section 153.009 of the Texas Family Code does allow for children to have a voice on the subject. The law allows for a party to request for the judge to confer with a child. Once a request is made for a judge to confer with a child, the judge must talk with children 12 years of age and older and may talk with children under the age of 12. Therefore, the law allows for children to state their preference, it does not allow them to choose.  The interview is merely evidence  courts can use to make its decision.  The court’s decision is ultimately based on what is in the best interest of the children.

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  1. Question: After the judge speaks to the child, is that discussion available for each to hear? Also, does this proceedure allow the oposing party to counter sue for full custoday? (not that they would).
    My child is 8 and has asked me often if we can go back to court so she can go to my ex when she ‘wants’ to and not as written in the divorce. Is this a request you’ve seen honored?

    thank you for your time.

    Vicky

    • As far as if you can hear what your child says, it all depends on a couple of factors. If your child has an attorney ad litem or even an amicus attorney, that attorney may ask that the child speak privately with the judge, meaning no attorneys and no parents. That way the child can speak freely without the worry of upsetting a parent.

      As far as your child wanting to change managing conservators from you to his/her father, there is little I can say about it because I have no idea about all the circumstances of your particular situation. I can tell you I have seen modifications of custody with young children and I have seen them denied. There is a possiblity the judge would decide against talking to your child because of his/her age. That is a determination for the judge to make.

  2. At what age can a child request to no longer go to each visitation with non-custodial parent?

    • The age when a child can decide to no longer visit the other parent is when the child is no longer a child. Therefore, as a parent, you should encourage visitation. Now, if there are serious dangers to the child, a modification of visitation should be considered.

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  5. I live in Texas and I’ve been reading articles on this because my 12th birthday is coming up and I’ve been wanting to at least talk to a judge about who I am currently living with for years now. All the people I’ve asked say I can do that at 12 whereas my parents ( who I’m living with ) say 18! I live with my dad and stepmom who made an agreement so I could live with them. I’d be happy, I could play the sports I wish to play. They have done neither of those. I know I can’t CHOOSE. The judge does that right? Anyways, if anyone else has this problem… Tell me. I’m trying to find enough proof to show my dad so I can finally live with my mom. She’s the only one who cares. My sister feels the same way.

    • Gracie,

      You are correct that a 12 year old cannot necessarily choose the parent he or she wants to live with. The judge is supposed to determine which parent would be “in the best interest of the child.” Once a child turns twelve and a “Motion for the Judge to Confer With a Child” is filed, the judge is to confer with the child. So, turning twelve helps guarantee that you have some say and at least get to voice your opinion to the judge. A twelve year olds opinion along with other factors assist the judge in making the determination of which parent would be “in the best interest of the child.”

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