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The Impact of a Child’s Preference in Custody Awards

Are you going through a custody dispute in the state of California? If so, then you may be curious as to what legal weight (if any) your child’s parental preference has on the outcome of your case. By having a better understanding of California law in regard to child preference, you can better advocate for yourself moving forward. And of course, having an experienced legal team on your side can make all the difference, too.

What Weight Does a Child’s Preference Carry?

In the state of California, there are specific laws regarding how much weight a child’s preference carries when determining which parents will receive primary or even full custody of a minor. Specifically, the child must be at least 14 years of age in order for his or her preference to be taken into significant consideration. In children younger than 14, the court considers the child too young and thus not yet mature enough to express a preference one way or the other. In these instances, the child’s preference may still be weighed as a factor, but with far less significance.

Still, in children 14 and older, a stated preference carries a great deal of weight on a judge’s custody decision.

Other Factors Determining the Outcome of a Custody Dispute

While having a child report to a judge that he or she prefers to live with one parent is a big deal in court, this does not constitute an automatic granting of custodial rights to that parent. Instead, other factors must also be taken into consideration by the judge.

Some of the other factors that the judge will weigh include the health and safety of the child, the parent’s criminal history (especially in regard to domestic abuse), and any history of drug or alcohol abuse by the parent.

In general, so long as there are no concerns about the child’s wellbeing, the child’s parental preference will be granted as long as the child is at least 14 years of age. If the child is younger than 14 and expresses a preference, this will still be taken into account, but not as strongly from a legal perspective.

Why You Need Legal Representation

There’s a lot that a judge must consider when ruling on a child custody dispute in the state of California. From the child’s preference to other matters, the most important thing at the end of the day is that everybody is looking out for the best interests of the child.

If you’re in the middle of a custody dispute in California, you need legal representation from a family lawyer who has extensive experience with these cases. At Erica Bloom Law, we can provide you with the legal guidance you need throughout every step of your divorce and custody dispute. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.