California Family Code Section 3042 states that a child that is of “sufficient age and capacity to reason” can sometimes form an intelligent preference as to custody and visitation. The court will sometimes take a look at what the child’s preferences are if they are at least 14 years old or older. If they are younger, the court will still listen to them and determine whether or not it is in their best interests.
In some cases, there is some type of parental influence involved. If so, the child’s decision is not entirely their own.
Conditioning: Parents sometimes use guilt and emotional pressure to force the child to state a preference that they don’t want to.
Alienation: Alienation takes place by one parent and they falsely make the other parent look as if they have done something wrong. This alienation creates a damaging relationship between a parent and child.
Escape From Discipline: Young children and teenagers will sometimes state that they want to stay with one parent because the other parent is strict when it comes to homework and other activities. At one parent’s house, they may choose to stay there all the time because they can “get away” with more.
Emotional Abuse: A parent will sometimes severely emotionally abuse their child until they begin to act out, which can lead to false abuse allegations against another parent.
You should always consider the help of an experienced attorney in these cases. You may choose to go forth with a psychological evaluator to determine whether or not abuse or conditioning has been used in your case. You may have to make testimony under oath to get the results you deserve. California family courts will certainly listen to what a child has to say, but will help determine the best interests of the child. We can help you when you want to get started on your case. Call us today.