Working out custody is not so much about what you or your spouse wants but what your child needs. Judges must make custody decisions based on the child’s best interests.
There is no simple way to define a child’s best interests. Rather the judge must look at a wide variety of factors, then weigh them all up to come up with an overall “ideal” custody plan.
One of the things they can consider is what your child wants
Don’t worry if your son is upset with you the day you go to court because you wouldn’t let him eat chocolate cake for breakfast. Lawmakers know small kids can be fickle. That is why Georgia law makes the following provisions:
- Children under 11: Their wishes generally do not come into play. They’re considered too immature to make these kinds of decisions.
- Children aged 11 to 13: The judge can consider their wishes. How they do this is up to them. They could choose to ask the child directly, or they could rely on the opinions of a third party. They are under less obligation to adhere to the child’s wishes than when the child is older.
- Children aged 14 or over: They can choose which parent they want to live with. However, the judge can still override them if they believe the choice is not in the child’s best interests.
Ideally, judges want you both to retain a prominent and consistent role in your child’s life, as that is generally better for children. Seeking legal help to understand more about how custody works can help you prepare to get the arrangements you and your child need.