Can Your Child Choose Where to Live After a Divorce?
In the aftermath of a divorce, one of the biggest challenges that parents face is the impact on minor children. A divorce can mean they have to leave friends or activities behind when the court grants custody to a parent who relocates. Can your child decide where they want to live? Under what circumstances, if any, is their input considered when the court establishes conservatorship and access?
Recent Change in Law Governing a Minor Child’s Preference
For many years, Texas allowed minor children aged 12 or older to petition the court to live with a chosen parent after a divorce. The child’s request was considered as evidence when the court made its decision, but it was not controlling. If a child filed such a request, the court could solicit testimony from the child in court, but the testimony was still just evidence and could be diminished or disregarded by the court.
That prior law governing a minor child’s role in choosing where to live has been repealed and replaced; however, the new law still does not confer on a minor child the right to make that decision. Under the new law, if the minor child is 12 or older, either the child or a parent can request that the judge conduct an interview with the child. If the child is 12 or older, the judge must meet with them. If, however, the child is under the age of 12, there is no requirement that the interview take place. A judge will go forward with the interview only if doing so is deemed in the child’s best interests. It should be noted that the interview may address issues of visitation, as well as custody.
As under the prior law, the substance of the interview is considered evidence, just one part of everything the court considers when ruling on custody/conservatorship.
Can a Minor Child Ever Make the Decision Where to Live?
No. Until a child reaches the age of majority (18) in Texas, domicile may be determined only by agreement of the parents or order of the court. Minor children and parents are required by law to comply with the court’s order on domicile until the children reach the age of 18. The same rule applies to visitation. Parents and children must abide by the agreed-on or court-ordered visitation/access order until the minor child turns 18.
Contact the Proven Divorce and Family Law Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment with an aggressive and knowledgeable divorce and family lawyer, contact us by email or call our offices at 844-402-2992. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.