Do Children Get a Say in Which Parent Gets Custody?
By Hancock Law Firm, PLLC |
With an increasing percentage of children witnessing the separation of their parents, it is crucial to determine the best-case scenario for the child. Separating parents might be wondering, “Do they get a say in who to live with?” In Mississippi, a child’s preference depends on their age.
The Court and a Child’s Preference
The child’s wishes will be considered if they are 12 years or older. They can express their parental preference as long as the following grounds are met:
- Each parent is capable of providing custody
- Each parent can adequately provide for the child’s needs and maintenance
- The child’s preference is in their best interest
While the child can express their preference, the court does not have to follow it. The judge will look at the entire situation and make the best possible decision. Who is the most reliable parent? Which parent is capable of being the primary caregiver? Do both parents work and if so, who has a more stable job? Who has proper moral fitness? All of these questions and more are closely analyzed during the process.
The parent-child relationship is important, as well. If there is a history of domestic violence with one parent, then the other has a far better chance of getting custody. That still doesn’t mean that their choice overrules the court’s decision because the main criteria are for the child’s best interest and whatever option the judge feels is best. In that case, there would need to be a record stating why the child’s preference was rejected.
Are Children Required to Testify?
Parents may be curious as to whether or not their child will have to testify in court. The child is not required to testify in court because of how difficult it is for them. Talking about the child’s preference can be hard with their parents sitting in the same room. Instead, the child is interviewed elsewhere, in a more comfortable setting with less unwanted pressure like a court chamber. Legally, the parents do not have access to the chambers, but sometimes their lawyers are allowed inside to monitor the interview.
It is also possible for the child to submit a custodial preference statement with the court, mentioning which parent they would like to gain custody. Another option is for the court to appoint a custody evaluator who testifies in court on behalf of the child. This would be done after an interview with said child.
Legal Assistance in Mississippi Child Custody Cases
A child custody case can be emotional and complicated. You want the best for your child, but it can be hard to convey that in court. At Hancock Law Firm, we understand that your child is your first priority. We will fight to ensure that any custody decisions are in your child’s best interest.
If you need help with child custody issues, contact Hancock Law Firm at (601) 853-2223.