A common Texas divorce myth is that children get to decide where they want to live as soon as they turn twelve. There is some truth to this, but it is a little more complicated.
What A Child Wants
During a divorce or other case involving where a child will live, Texas Family Code Section 153.009 sets out the rules for interviewing a child. The court can talk to a child over 12 in chambers “to determine the child’s wishes” as to where they want to live. The court can decide on its own to interview a child or a party can ask the court to do so.
What the child tells the judge is just one factor when deciding where the child will live. (The parent who decides where a child lives has what is called “primary possession.”) A parent challenging potential primary possession can still show that it is not in the best interest of the child, especially if parental alienation is an issue.
If a divorce is final, Texas Family Code Section 156.101 allows a party to file a motion to modify and change primary possession if a child over twelve has told the court where they want to live and that change is in the child’s best interest. A request to change primary possession is not automatic. A child can’t just declare one day that “I want to live with dad” and move away when they reach the magic age of 12.
In reality, where the child wants to live does become more important as they age. Somewhere around the age of 15, for a
What A Parent Wants
Don’t panic if your child tells you that they want to live with their other parent when they get older. Remember that a child’s opinion about where they want to live is just one factor helping the judge decide what is in that child’s best interest. Older children’s opinions can carry more weight but are still not a trump card.
If you find yourself in a situation where your child either wants to live with you or doesn’t want to live with you anymore, schedule a consultation to see how we can help. You can call us at 469.676.6644 or drop us an email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.