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How a child's opinion influences custody

Whether divorcing California parents figure out child custody matters on their own or a judge decides, their children sometimes have different ideas. Depending on a child's age and maturity level, he or she may have the opportunity to provide input about a living situation to the court.

If parents cannot reach a decision about child custody, a judge will consider several factors when assigning physical custody. A child's wishes are only one of these factors, and the weight a child's statement holds can vary. Courts want to make sure that a child or teen is staying with a responsible adult, and a judge may disregard a minor's desires if it seems like the young person just wants to live with one parent because they are more lenient about rules.

When a child disagrees with a custody decision, he or she may be able to live with the other parent if both parents agree. This is easiest to accomplish when there is no court order. If a modification is needed, courts must often verify that no custodial interference has occurred. This takes place when a noncustodial parent tries to influence a child to stay with the noncustodial parent instead of the other parent. While it may depend on the circumstances, offering an incentive to convince a child to live with the noncustodial parent is frowned upon and may even break the law in some states.

One parent might have sole physical custody of a child, but parents could also share physical custody. This may be the best option if both parents want their children to live with them. Trying to form a custody arrangement without court intervention may be less costly and time consuming, and the parents may want to have the help of their respective lawyers when doing so.

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