When parents start thinking about a breakup or divorce, they inevitably worry about what the change in their relationship will mean for their time with their children. Texas family law requires that parents work with one another to provide for a child’s needs. They need to openly communicate with each other, share parenting time and cooperate when making decisions about the child’s life.
Of course, before you can reach a point where you effectively co-parent with your ex, you will first need to negotiate a custody order or parenting plan. Many parents focus on their wishes or their schedules when handling this process, and they fail to think about what their children might prefer.
Do your child’s wishes carry much weight in Texas custody matters?
If you go to court, older children may have a say
Many parents in Texas breaking up or divorcing will settle their custody arrangements privately outside of court. They can completely keep the children out of the process in theory and move forward with an uncontested divorce if they agree about all of the major decisions for their co-parenting arrangements. However, when parents have to have a judge make decisions about custody matters, the child’s wishes may factor into the final order.
Typically, once a child reaches 12 years of age, a judge can speak with them when considering custody issues to determine what the child would prefer. While the child’s wishes won’t dictate what arrangements the judge creates, they can influence a judge’s decision. The more mature the child is and the more reasonable their explanation for their preferences, the more weight the judge is likely to give their wishes.
Talking about custody can be hard on kids
While you obviously would like to consider your child’s preferences in your custody dispute, you also need to think about how stressful it can be for children to have to openly declare that they would prefer to spend more time with one parent or the other. Children may worry about damaging the relationship with the parent that they don’t live with or about straining their relationship with the parent who has more time with them.
The less pressure you and your ex put on your children related to your custody dispute, the easier it will be for them to heal from your divorce. Learning more about the rules that apply to custody issues in Texas can help parents make their children the main focus of their proceedings.