Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Will a child's wishes be considered at a child custody hearing?

Family courts nationwide, including here in Massachusetts, tend to favor co-parenting if it will be in the best interest of the child. Unfortunately, some divorces are contentious, and in many cases, bitter child custody battles ensue. The court will generally award custody to the parent deemed capable of providing proper care for the child. However, many factors are considered before the suitability of a parent is determined.

When children are very young, the court may find the mother more suitable, but in cases in which children are older, the court may consider the wishes of the child or the other parent. However, even if a child is old enough to express his or her preference related to child custody, the court may disregard those wishes. Similarly, the wishes of one or both parents may also be disregarded if the judge is not satisfied that it would serve the child's best interests.

These decisions are based on the child's physical and emotional needs along with his or her educational and social upbringing. In certain cases, a child who was placed in the custody of one parent may be allowed to pursue a motion for child custody modification when he or she is older and deemed capable of making such a decision. If the court grants such a preference, the existing child custody order will be modified.

Massachusetts parents may benefit from discussing child custody concerns and issues with an experienced family law attorney. Not only will such a professional be knowledgeable about the latest child custody laws, he or she will also know what exceptions may be allowed in complicated cases. A lawyer can prepare a parent for the legal proceedings that form part of child custody hearings.

Source: isfma.com, "The Child's Preference in Custody", Accessed on Aug. 5, 2016

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