When crafting or reviewing a child custody order, a Texas judge must ensure that its terms meet the best interest of the child. This can include a number of different things, and depending on the age of the child, the judge could take their preference into account.
When a child can be heard
Under Texas law, the court may interview any child who is at least 12 years of age at the time of a divorce. During the interview, the court will generally look to see if the child is mature enough to express a coherent opinion and whether that opinion has been offered free of undue influence. Typically, more weight will be given to the words of a child who is seen as capable of making his or her own decisions.
A child’s wishes are not binding
While a judge may take a child’s wishes into account, a child custody ruling must ensure that the child’s interests are met. Therefore, it’s possible that you will obtain full custody of your child even if that isn’t what they prefer.
Flexibility and communication are key
Even if you are granted custody of your child, it’s likely that your child will want to have a relationship with the other parent. Assuming that it is safe to do so, you should nurture that relationship, allowing the child to spend nights or weekends with the other parent even if the parenting plan doesn’t specifically call for it.
When possible, take your child’s feelings into consideration when crafting a parenting plan. It may minimize any feelings of resentment that they might have. It may also provide insight that makes it easier to craft a plan that meets everyone’s needs.