The hardest part for most future divorcees is the prospect of a custody battle for the children. The uncertainty of whether or not a parent will have custody of their child can be frightening, especially considering all of the factors that a judge will consider when awarding child custody. A lesser-known factor when determining custody is the preference of the child. But how much impact does a child’s preference have on determining who the child will stay with?
Best Interest of the Child
It is possible in South Carolina that a child may end up deciding which parent that he or she stays with but the answer is a bit more complicated than a single child’s choice. The preference of the child as to whom the child wishes to be with is one of many factors that South Carolina law requires a judge consider when determining which parent may have custody.
As with all states, South Carolina uses the ‘best interest of the child’ standard when determining custody. It is a multifactor test that considers the entire situation of the parents and the children when determining the custody arrangement. There is no one factor that is greater than all the others and each decision on custody will be specific to the individual family situation. Some of these factors include but are not limited to:
- The temperament and developmental needs of the child
- The preferences of each child
- The wishes of the parents as to custody
- The child’s relationship with family members
- The actions and behavior of the parents
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community environments,
- The mental and physical health of all parties involved
A Child’s Choice
Just because a child has a preference does not mean that the judge will go along with the child’s preference. However, the judge will give additional weight to the child’s preference based on the child’s age, experience, maturity, judgment, and ability to express a preference.
Often age is the heaviest factor here as generally as a child gets older they gain in all of these. There is no magic number though when it comes to what age a court will begin listening to a child. That said, typically once a child turns 14, judges will more likely heed the child’s preference.
Do Not Leave Child Custody Up To Chance
Determining child custody is often the hardest part of a divorce for a parent. The idea that they will no longer have time or access to their children is one that can tear a parent’s heart apart. Having professional representation in a divorce is key to achieving a desirable result. Contact the experienced attorneys at Klok Law Firm LLC in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. We have been helping parents get the time that they need with their children for years. Call today at (843) 216-8860 or visit us online.