If you and your spouse are splitting up, you know that you need to decide where your child will live. Now, custody may get divided in a number of different ways, and it's not always equal — even in shared custody situations.
With this in mind, is it your decision to make as a parent, or should you ask your child what they want? How much of a say do they have in this process?
A child may have a say, but won't make the decision
In Texas, a child can express their preference about their custody situation to the court after they turn 12 years of age. A lot of parents think this means that the child can essentially pick where they want to live. This is a misconception. Ultimately, the court may take your child's preferences into consideration but that doesn't mean that they will agree that's the best living situation for the child.
You can certainly ask your child about their preference, but you may want to consider the emotional consequences that question could have for your child. Some experts advise not making children choose. This is not because the child's opinion doesn't matter, but because it can be very stressful for them. They may equate choosing which parent's residence they will call “home” with choosing which parent they love more.
Unless your child has already expressed a preference, asking them to choose could drive a new emotional wedge into your family dynamics.
Working out a plan for custody
Determining a custody plan can easily become the focal point of your divorce. Always carefully look into your legal options with the help of an experienced advocate. There may be solutions to your unique problems that you've never considered.