When parents divorce, children often struggle with the changes to their family and all of the emotions that arise. Few steps in your upcoming divorce will cause your children more stress than custody proceedings.
Shared custody isn’t easy. Children often have to get used to new homes and new schools. They may have to spend more time in vehicles, traveling back and forth between their parents. They also have to deal with their parents’ feelings and arguments.
Your children may already feel some sense of responsibility for your divorce. It is normal for children to worry that their parents will fight over them or that the divorce will hurt the relationship between child and parent. Kids may spend weeks worrying about the obligation to choose a parent. Do the Texas courts require that children state their custody preferences?
Certain children can influence the outcome of custody litigation
Parents divorcing in Texas can potentially exclude their children completely from the process by settling their own custody arrangements outside of court. When parents can’t reach an agreement, then litigation becomes necessary.
A Texas family law judge will be the ones to review family circumstances and determine what would be in the best interests of the children. Usually, there is a presumption that shared custody will be best, but children do have the opportunity to make their wishes known.
A judge can consider the personal preferences of a child who is age 12 or older, provided they have the capacity to understand the situation. The child’s wishes don’t dictate the outcome but merely help inform the ultimate decision by the judge.
Needing to choose can be difficult for children
Children of any age dealing with a parental divorce will likely worry about what speaking up about their custody preferences will mean for the relationship with their parents. A child may worry that asking to live with one parent could alienate them from the other. They may also experience intense anxiety about needing to speak to a judge or testify in court.
Parents who work collaboratively or who negotiate their own custody settlement can spare their children from what can be one of the most stressful parts of the divorce.