In a California child custody case, how old does a child have to be to express a preference as to where they want to live?
There are two age groups that come into the analysis: 1) Under the age of 14 but is at a sufficient age to reason as to form an intelligent preference as to custody or visitation, and 2) 14 or older and the child wishes to address the Court. In the former group, the Court must consider and give due weight to the child's preference. In the latter group, the Court MUST permit the child to address the Court UNLESS the Court determines that by doing so would not be in the child's best interest.
To keep the Court's accountable, if the Court does not allow the child to testify, it must state it's reason on the record. (FC 3042(a)) If the Court precludes the child from testifying, it may provide an alternative so that the Court can obtain the preference (such as Minor's Counsel, Custody evaluation or Family Court Services) Do you have a child who is thriving in your home and has expressed a preference to spend more time with you, contact experienced Covina child custody attorney Paul Eads today.