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Can My Child Talk to a Judge About Custody?

You may have an idea about what child custody outcome you will prefer at the finalization of your divorce. What’s more, your child may have a preference too. Follow along to find out whether your child can talk to a judge about the custody case at hand and how one of the proficient Morris County NJ child custody attorneys at Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark can help you understand this.

What are the different types of child custody?

Before all else, you must understand the potential child custody agreement that the New Jersey family judge may order. They are as follows:

  • Legal custody: this is granted to the parent who will make decisions regarding the child’s medical care, schooling, religious upbringing, and general welfare.
  • Physical custody: this is granted to the parent who will live with the child for the majority of the time.
  • Joint legal custody: this is granted to both parents who will have an equal right to participate in decisions regarding the child’s health, education, religion, and welfare.
  • Joint physical custody: this is granted to both parents who live with the child for equal amounts of time.

Can my child talk to a judge about what type of custody they prefer?

If your child is of a mature age, generally between the ages of eight and 17, then they may talk to a New Jersey family judge regarding what type of custody arrangement they prefer. The judge may take your child’s preference into serious consideration. Though, they are not legally obligated to listen. Instead, they will make a decision based on what they believe to be in the best interest of your child.

For example, say your child tells the judge that they prefer a joint custody arrangement. However, the judge determines that your former spouse is an unfit parent, after evaluating their history of incarceration, substance abuse, domestic abuse, or otherwise. In this case, the judge will go against your child’s request because it is not in their best interest to be under the care of an unfit parent. They will instead grant you sole custody.

Ultimately, your child is legally not allowed to make an independent decision as to which parent they wish to live with until they reach the age of 18. Or, they may do so if they request to be emancipated. But this is unlikely, as they will not be allowed to do so if they are not financially independent at the time of the request.

For more information on how to go about your custody case, reach out to one of the competent New Jersey divorce and family law attorneys. We look forward to hearing from you.