What Age Can a Child Decide Visitation after Divorce?

In Arizona, parents should create a plan for how custody should be shared among them if the parents decide they do not wish to live together and raise their child in one shared home.  Parents need to make a decision on who has legal custody (the right to make decisions for a child) and how visiting time should be shared.  If parents are not able to come to an agreement on what is right for their family, the family court will need to step in and a family court judge will make the choice about how parents share time. 

When a judge makes a decision, the judge considers the best interests of the child. One factor that the judge will consider in deciding visitation after divorce is what a child’s preferences are. However, a judge does not take a child’s preferences into consideration in all situations.

Whether a judge considers the wishes of a child or not is going to depend upon the age and maturity of the child. Even when a child’s wishes are considered, the desire of a child to spend time with one parent over the other is only one of many things the judge looks at when choosing how to divide parenting time.

Parents who are involved in a custody dispute need to ensure they are taking steps to make strong arguments to the court and to protect their child’s best interests. A Scottsdale, AZ divorce lawyer at Singer Pistiner, P.C. can be consulted to provide assistance to parents in fighting for their right to custody.

What Age Can a Child Decide Visitation after Divorce?

Typically, a child has a say on visitation after divorce when the child is considered old enough to make an informed choice an express an opinion. Usually, this happens around age 12. A child at a younger age can sometimes assert a preference to the court, but the judge must determine on a case-by-case basis how much weight to give to a child’s expressed wishes.

A judge can take a child into his or her chambers and ask the child about preferred visitation after divorce. In some cases, a therapist or a guardian ad litem is appointed to represent the child’s interests. The therapist could talk to the child, observe the family, and make a recommendation on what is best for the child.

If parents are deciding custody on their own outside of court, the wishes of the child are something they could consider- but it is very important that parents not put a child in the middle or ask the child to choose one parent or the other. Parents need to ensure that they are doing what is best for their children and that they create a custody agreement that makes sense given the family’s needs.

An experienced attorney can provide assistance to parents who are negotiating or litigating the issue of custody.  An attorney can provide representation to parents when they work with a mediator, if they try to negotiate on their own, or if a judge makes the choice on custody. The Scottsdale family lawyers at Singer Pistiner, P.C. have successfully helped many clients to argue for their preferred custody arrangements. Give us a call today to learn more about how we can assist you.

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