Child Custody: Who Decides?
Deciding Child Custody
Deciding child custody can be a long battle in some St. Louis divorce proceedings. Many parents have concerns that, especially in families with older children, the child may get to decide where he or she would like to live. The thought of having your child choose your spouse over you can be terrifying and heartbreaking.
In the state of Missouri, unless your child is over 18, he or she does not get to make the official decision of who will have custody over them. The decision will be made by you and your spouse, or by a judge. In the case of teenage children, however, the judge will usually take the child’s testimony into consideration when making the decision on legal and physical custody.
The child’s opinion is usually only given some sort of weight when the older child clearly expresses whom he or she would like to live with. Furthermore, if it appears that the child has been coached or overly persuaded by one of the parents during his or her testimony, the judge will usually listen, but will not let the testimony affect his credible decision making. Judges (as well as Guardian ad Litems) also have the power to interview the child while the child is not in the presence of his or her parents. This may lead to a more honest testimony about the child’s feelings. Since this process may be traumatizing for your child, it is best for you and your spouse to come to agreeable terms on your own, and then obtain the input of your children. This approach helps reduce your child’s exposure to the legal process.
St. Louis Child Support Attorney is Here to Help
The decision on child custody in Missouri is not an easy one. For a more detailed viewpoint on this topic, contact a local child custody attorney to find out how he can assist you and your family today.