Can kids decide which parent to live with after divorce?

On Behalf of | Oct 29, 2021 | Child Custody |

No divorce is easy, but divorces that involve children and their custody can be very challenging for the adults and kids involved. In New Jersey, divorcing parents have the option to create their own parenting plans to submit to the courts for approval. When parents cannot agree to appropriate custodial methods, courts can intervene and establish plans based on the children’s best interests and many factors related to the structure and functioning of their families.

One factor that the court may consider during child custody determinations is the preference of the child regarding which parent they would like to live with. This post will examine the relevant New Jersey law that addresses this topic. Still, readers are encouraged to seek independent legal counsel regarding their specific child custody and divorce needs.

Understanding child preference in custody

There are circumstances when a court may entertain the preferences of a child regarding their custodial outcomes. According to New Jersey law, when a child is old enough and has enough capacity to form an intelligent decision about their custody, their preference can be considered a factor in their custody plan.

This means that not all children’s preferences will be considered during custody hearings. Suppose it is determined that a child is not old enough to hold an intelligent decision on the matter or lacks sufficient mental capacity to form an informed decision. In that case, a judge may not consider their preference.

Preference and other factors

Even if a child’s preference is considered, there are other factors a court will evaluate to find the best possible child custody plan for them. A court will look at relationships between family members, threats to the child’s safety, how custody will impact their education and social life, and many other factors. Though some children may contribute to the discussion about how best to form their custody plans, child preference is not the only factor that will influence a child custody outcome.