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When Your Child Is Old Enough to Decide

On Behalf of | Nov 28, 2016 | Child CustodyDivorceFamily Law, Firm News

In a long, expensive, and taxing divorce, the last intention anyone involved has is to drag the children into the pressures of a courtroom. There are certain divorce scenarios, however, that allow the preferences of children – in same cases requiring it – to be expressed in court. Especially when two parents divorcing cannot agree on a custody arrangement, the child’s preference becomes one of the many, necessary factors a judge needs to consider in his or her decision. This, of course, is conditional upon the age and maturity level of the child in question.

How Old Must a Child Be in Order to Express Preference?

One of the many complications around this scenario is that there is no magic number where the court automatically credits a child’s custodial preference in the state of Massachusetts. A child’s credibility is determined by both age and maturity and could best be broken down as followed:

  • Older teenagers: The courts are more likely to take into consideration the reasoning of a child aged 14 to 17, as these tend to be years wherein more complex reasoning develops.
  • Younger teenagers and preteens: The courts will take caution in these preferences, as at these ages, children tend to quickly change their minds or make decisions based on less than responsible reasoning.
  • Ages 10 and under: A 9 year-old-child would have to be mature far beyond his or her years in order to make a credible argument for custodial preference and have the court consider it. It is not, however, wholly beyond the scope of possibility.

Regardless of the age or maturity level of the child testifying in a custody battle, the child cannot simply make a preference for preference’s sake. It is not enough to just desire living with one parent over the other. It is still a court of law, and sound reasoning still need to be demonstrated in order for the court to honor it. This requirement is in place to eliminate the possibility of flimsy decision making or the unfair manipulation on behalf of one parent to influence a child’s decision. For more information regarding custody disputes or other matters pertaining to family law, call the Barach Law Group LLC today at 617-819-1805!