Child Custody: Does The Child Have Any Say?

Teenage girl cries with her mother on the backgroundQuestion:

In a child custody case, does the child have any say regarding which parent they live with?

Answer:

While I am not licensed to practice law in your state and am unable to give you legal advice, I can give you some general observations on this issue based on the jurisdiction where I practice.

Where I do practice in Virginia, children are generally not allowed to speak in court until they are over the age of 13.

This does not mean that a child will never have the opportunity to voice her/his concerns. The court offers two alternatives to speaking in court.

First, the court may appoint a Guardian ad Litem (GAL), and this is an attorney who is supposed to represent the interests of the child. The GAL should speak with the child during the litigation process in order to ascertain the wishes of the child and should make those wishes known to the court.

Second, if no GAL is appointed the judge may want to speak with the child in chambers, and not in open court. During these off-record conversations, the judge will ask the child his/her preference.

Both of these options are an attempt to shield the child from the adversarial aspects of the litigation.

All issues regarding child custody, especially when dealing with possible testimony from children, are extremely fact-specific and require a specialized knowledge of local law. For these reasons I would suggest you contact an attorney who specializes in family law matters in your jurisdiction.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than tips on emancipation matters, so please contact an attorney in your jurisdiction to obtain specific advice as to the laws of Georgia and how they impact your case.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss child custody rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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Shawn Garrison is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell & Cordell UK. He has written countless pieces dealing with the unique child custody and divorce issues that men and fathers face. Through his work on CordellCordell.com, CordellCordell.co.uk, and DadsDivorce.com, Mr. Garrison has become an authority on the complexities of the legal experience and was a content creator for the YouTube series “Dad’s Divorce Live” and additional videos on both the Dad’s Divorce and Cordell & Cordell YouTube channels. Mr. Garrison has managed the sites of these customers, and fostered the creation of several of their features, including the Cordell & Cordell attorney and office pages, the Dad’s Divorce Newsletter, and the Cordell & Cordell newsletter.

4 comments on “Child Custody: Does The Child Have Any Say?

    I have Sole, Legal and Physical custody of my 12 year old daughter. My Ex-wife has visitation as laid out in a Custody and Visitation agreement through the court.
    She often decides that she is coming to town to visit for a weekend (that is not in the agreement) and wants to see my daughter. in most cases we work something out.
    However, she is now being combative and is refusing to accept the time i am allowing her with my daughter. Can you please offer some advice on how to handle this?

    The child’s preference is taken into account when it reinforces the judges own bias and the child’s preference is marginalized when it opposes the judges own bias

    Can you please give Maine legal advice about when somebody sends papers for me to give custody to him do I have to have custody papers as well too to let me know if they got custody over them

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