Caught in your divorce crossfire are a multitude of people who care about you and your spouse, but no one’s more severely hit than your child. So, if their future is in the middle of a highly contentious custody battle, do they have a voice in the decision-making process?
Child’s wishes considered, but not sole deciding factor
Ohio’s revised code adheres to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. This revised code does not explicitly specify an age at which your child can express their preferred custodial arrangement. The state’s requirement used to be 12 years above, but now, the age may differ depending on the circumstances surrounding your case.
Either you or your spouse can file a motion to seek the court’s consideration for your child’s wishes. Sometimes, the court itself deems your child’s wishes necessary. During a camera-recorded interview with a judge, your child must exhibit sufficient reasoning ability to communicate their preference and such preference must be within their best interests.
If proven that your child is too young or has physical, mental or psychological limitations to make reasonable legal decisions, the court may disregard the child’s expressed preferences. The court’s judgment may or may not consider the child’s influence and still take a holistic standpoint on the child’s welfare before making an ultimate decision.
Further, the court has innumerable factors under consideration to accurately assess your child’s overall well-being and development amid the divorce. Aside from the quality of their relationships with you and your spouse, the court must also investigate their relationships with siblings and other family members. Further, there must also be an evaluation regarding adjustments to your child’s school and neighborhood and how it impacts their specific mental, social and psychological needs.
Child’s best interest standard
As much as you’re trying to protect your child, someone must also look out for your legal rights and interests. Child custody proceedings may quickly turn complex, and you’d need a divorce counsel to help you weigh and navigate through your emotionally taxing situation.