Listening to a Child's Wishes During a Custody Hearing


It is difficult to say whether or not a judge will honor a child’s wishes during a Pasadena divorce custody hearing. Judges often listen to the wishes of a child, but ultimately the judge's job is to consider the best interests of the child. As any parent knows, what is in the child’s best interest is not necessarily what he or she wants to do. For example, eating healthy foods and attending school regularly are things most of us would agree are in a child’s best interest -- yet many children would happily eat nothing but ice cream and pizza as they sit in front of the TV playing video games all day.

Children age fourteen and older are entitled to express an opinion about custody issues to the court. Children under fourteen are allowed to testify at the judge's discretion if the court believes they have the sufficient mental capacity to consider the pros and cons of a decision. However, the child’s wishes would not be honored if doing so would place him or her in harm’s way. It's fairly common for a teen to want to live with the parent who has the least amount of rules, but judges recognize that reasonable rules are intended to protect children.

Another possible concern is the fear that a child has been coached by a particular parent in an attempt to sway the court. Parental alienation, in which one parent actively tries to pit the child against the other parent, is a real concern in custody cases. Any case in which the child views one parent as the “bad” parent and the other as the “good” parent is obviously going to be met with suspicion. A judge won't honor a child’s wishes if he or she has reason to suspect the child’s testimony is not one hundred percent genuine. In this type of case, the judge might request that a mediator or other evaluator meet with the child to determine what his or her true desires might be.

How Can We Help?

Please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at if you are in need of assistance with a child custody related issue. Our Pasadena family law lawyers have the skills needed to handle a wide range of concerns regarding custody and visitation arrangements.