There is nothing easy about going through divorce or legal separation as a parent. The change in the family dynamic can be difficult for children to adjust to, at least for a while. The total lack of control over the situation can make some children feel lost and helpless. Kids just want to be heard, but if they express their wishes concerning child custody, does the state of Washington give them any say in the matter?
How is custody decided?
Generally, parents or a judge get to decide what the best custody arrangement will be. The ideal way to reach a custody agreement is for parents to negotiate terms either in private or with the assistance of legal counsel. However, some parents are not able to arrive at a mutual agreement.
If needed, a judge will step in and issue a custody order after considering certain factors, such as the age of the children, parent-child relationships, the wishes of the parents, living arrangements and any specific needs the children may have — among various other things.
Will a judge listen?
There is nothing that strictly says children’s wishes regarding custody have to be taken into consideration. They are sometimes asked to express their opinions on the matter, but a judge does not have to grant a custody order based on those opinions. Generally speaking, children’s custody-related wishes are not taken into serious consideration unless the children are deemed mature enough to understand the gravity of their requests.
If you have one or more children who have strong opinions about what your family’s custody order should look like, you have some big decisions to make. As the parent, you know your children best and what type of arrangement would serve their best interests.