As a San Antonio divorce lawyer, I am asked frequently asked about when a child is able to choose where they want to live. My short answer is never. A child is never able to definitely make the sole decision on where they live.
After a child turns 12, if either parent requests a judge to interview the child, a judge is required to interview the child. This means the judge talks to the child about what they want. This does not mean that the child decides. It just means that the child gets to provide their input to the judge. The judge is going to base his or her decision on a variety of factors, which will include the child’s preference. However, the child’s preference is NOT the sole determining factor for the judge.
As a San Antonio divorce lawyer, I believe that judges often scrutinize a child’s preference and examine it carefully. As a San Antonio divorce lawyer, when my client’s consider having their child testify, I consider the following: (1) has the child has been coached; (2) whether the child has been bribed to make a certain statement; and (3) whether the child is mature enough to even be able to make that kind of decision. Some kids, are not mature enough to handle going to court even if they legally are permitted to talk to the judge.
In my experience as a San Antonio divorce lawyer, I believe that bringing a child to court can be stressful for the child and the family. Having a child talk to a judge puts a lot of pressure on that child. If you are deciding whether to have your child talk to the judge, you should consider the emotional and mental consequences as well when you are making your decision.