Can my child talk to the judge about their parental preference regarding custody in Tennessee?

child hugging parent child custody child with eyes closed

If you are working through a divorce with children, you will likely have to iron out the issue of child custody in court. Child custody is a contentious issue in divorces as valuable parenting time is at stake. To determine a custody arrangement, the court will evaluate several factors to help them determine whether they should grant sole or joint custody. When determining custody, the primary factor the court evaluates is what is in the child’s best interest. Often, the judge will make an effort to grant joint custody if possible. This is because it is seen in a child’s best interest to benefit from being nurtured by both parents. It is natural for parents to wonder whether their child’s parental preferences could impact the court’s custody determination. In Tennessee, the court can consider a child’s parental preference regarding custody. Please continue reading to learn how a child’s parental preference impacts a custody determination and how an experienced Memphis, Tennessee Child Custody Lawyer can help you today.

Does the court consider a child’s parental preferences when determining a custody agreement?

In Tennessee, the court can consider a child’s parental preference regarding custody if the child is at least 12 years old. However, this does not mean that the court will grant custody based on a child’s wishes. Courts evaluate a variety of factors, including each parent’s mental health, criminal history, the relationship each parent has with the child, and other pertinent factors. Depending on the circumstances of the situation, a child’s parental preference may carry significant weight in a judge’s custody determination. For instance, if a child is making an independent decision and has valid reasoning for preferring one parent over the other, it could influence a judge’s decision.

However, in some cases, one parent may try to manipulate a child into choosing them. If the court finds evidence of coercion, the child’s expression of parental preference will not be taken into account. If the court finds the child has not been manipulated or coerced into favoring one parent regarding custody, the child’s parental preference can have a significant impact on the court’s custody determination. Furthermore, regardless of a child’s wishes sometimes it is not appropriate for a parent to have sole or joint custody of a child as it could negatively affect the overall well-being of the child. In some situations, a child may express they want to live with one parent over the other. However, it may not be a safe environment for them physically, emotionally, or mentally. It would not be in the best interest of a child to be living in an unsafe environment. Ultimately, the judge will evaluate several factors to determine a custody arrangement that values the best interests of the child.

If you are seeking custody of your child, please don’t hesitate to speak with one of our determined and trusted lawyers. Our firm is committed to helping our clients get sole or joint custody of their children after a divorce.