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Do Judges Consider the Wishes of Children in Child Custody Cases?

It is a common misconception that judges will allow children over the age of 14 to determine which parent they will live with in custody cases. While some states will allow judges to take into consideration the wishes of children over 14, this is by no means a certainty, and in many cases the judge will make a decision about what’s best for the child based on which parent is best suited for custody. 

In fact, in many cases, courts will even “consider” the wishes of children younger than 14. But the wishes of the children are only one of many different factors that judges will consider. Other issues include the income level of each parent, each parent’s demonstrated ability to provide for a child and meet their needs and each parent’s lifestyle. 

There are a variety of reasons that judges do not automatically base custody arrangements based on the wishes of children. These include: 

  • It’s very easy for parents to bribe their children into choosing them for custody. Parents could give children a variety of inappropriate benefits, including their own car or no curfew, to sway their decision.
  • Allowing the child to choose puts them into a parental role, where it’s left to the child to determine which parent they feel most needs them. Children should not be forced into these kinds of decisions — it is the parents’ responsibility to take care of these decisions for them.
  • Children may have an unrealistic expectation of what life would be like with each parent.
  • Children may be more likely to choose to live with the parent with more money and privileges rather than the parent that would actually provide them with a better life. 

Judges understand that what children want in custody arrangements isn’t always what’s best for them. For more information about how Maryland custody arrangements are established, contact the skilled divorce attorneys at Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A.

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