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When Do Courts Allow Children to Weigh in on Custody?

When you end your relationship with your child’s other parent, child custody can be a major point of contention. Courts tend to look at “the best interest of the child” when determining a custody and visitation schedule.

Of course, kids often have preferences regarding their living situation. One common custody myth is that at a certain age, the child gets to decide which parent to live with—but that’s not quite accurate in Minnesota.

Child custody and the preferences of the child

In Minnesota, absent an agreement between the parents, the courts will consider which living situation is in the best interest of the child. This is based on a number of factors, from the parents’ fitness and ability to provide for their children, as well as each parent’s willingness to get along with the other.

Unlike some states, Minnesota doesn’t have a set age at which a child’s preference is taken into account. Instead, a judge may consider the child’s preferences if they believe the child is mature enough to express one. For example, if an eight-year-old is able to articulate their preferences and reasoning, the courts may choose to take that into account. On the other hand, if an older child does not appear to understand the situation, or is unable to express a preference, their input might not be considered.

Working with an experienced child custody lawyer is one of the best ways to advocate for your child’s best interests, whether or not a judge chooses to take their preferences into account. Your attorney can help you collect documentation and other evidence to support your goals and your child’s preferences.

The trusted family lawyers at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. in St. Paul, MN can help you navigate custody and child support issues. Call today to schedule a consultation.

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