When children are young, they may not think too much about which parent they live with when their parents get divorced. As they get older, they may start to express their opinions on the matter. In Massachusetts, does a child’s wishes regarding child custody matter to the court?
In some states, the courts do not take a child’s wishes into consideration at all when establishing a child custody plan. Massachusetts is not like those states. Here, under the right circumstances, a child’s wishes may be taken into consideration.
What is needed for a judge to consider what a child wants when granting or modifying a custody order? First, the court will look at the child’s age. In most cases, the court will not base a custody order on a child’s wishes if the child is too young.
Second, the court will consider the child’s maturity level — every child matures at a different rate. Finally, third, the court will consider the child’s ability to understand what he or she is asking for. Not all children are able to make well-informed decisions.
No one wants their children to be unhappy, but the court will not allow a custody order to be based just on a child’s feelings. It is the court’s job to look at the whole picture and determine what living arrangement will best serve the child’s interests. Parents in Massachusetts who wish to give their children a say in child custody matters can turn to legal counsel for help giving them a voice. With assistance, it is possible to achieve a custody plan that works for the entire family.