Should Children Be Asked by the Court Who They Want to Stay With After Their Parents’ Divorce?
Divorce is a tricky challenge for a child whose parents decide to end the relationship. There are situations when parents manage to quickly and peacefully sort things out, divide property, and discuss a custody plan. Usually, in this situation children have the opportunity to communicate with both parents and have a healthy childhood.
The Importance of Children’s Interests First in Divorce Proceedings
If the parents fail to resolve the divorce peacefully, the events may end in court arguing not only about the property, but also about custody of the child. In such situations, the judge may ask the child’s views about his or her preferences in order to create the most comfortable conditions for growth. However, like the divorce itself, the need to appear in court and choose between the parents is a psychological and emotional challenge, and, therefore, it is desirable to bypass this stage of the divorce.
It is important to understand that the child, in any case, will be confused and stressed. Divorce often means not only the cessation of the parents’ cohabitation, but also a big change of residence, school, and environment for the child, who is not guilty at all in the end of the adults’ relationship. Therefore, parents need to put the interests of the child first and constantly explain to him or her all the events that occur, describing the consequences of each change. Recent studies have shown that a poor parenting relationship after a divorce is more traumatic and dangerous for children than the divorce itself (Meyers). It is necessary to clearly understand that the presence of a child in court and the need to answer the judge’s questions is a difficult task, because the child must tell about personal feelings to strangers. As a result, it is better to avoid this step to reduce stress.
Considering Factors for Custody Decisions
Most American laws recommend judges to check a large number of indicators before asking for a child’s opinion. The judge should investigate which parent has more financial resources, who is able to provide protection and support, and whose guardianship will not force the child to move to a new city and change schools (Gowda). All these characteristics based on evidence allow the judge to see which parent should be responsible for the child to ensure healthy growth conditions.
However, the child’s preference needs to be heard and valued. The American law in a large number of states believes that children who are 12 years old and older can be summoned to court to make their choice (Gowda). This age rating appeared because, in a period of young puberty, children begin to feel and articulate their own identity and their reasoning and ideas should be taken into account. Children can have serious reasons to live with a father instead of a mother, and visa versa, as a result of external factors that were not analyzed by the judge.
In conclusion, divorce brings harm to the child psyche, so parents should pay much attention to their children during this period. It is better to end relationships peacefully and plan joint custody to share responsibility and be able to communicate with their children about all issues. However, even if the divorce is going to be long and stressful, parents still need to make sure that their children understand the situation and not invite them to the courtroom. Judges in America are making their decision after an analysis of the facts, so there is a high possibility that the child’s interest will be taken into account in the first place. However, giving a child a chance to express his or her own vision can grant a healthier space for growing up.
Gowda, Veena. “Divorced? All You Need to Know about Child Custody Rights.” Business Today, 20 Mar. 2013, https://www.businesstoday.in/moneytoday/cover-story/divorced-all-you-need-to-know-about-child-custody-rights/story/192716.html.
Meyers, Seth. “Divorced Parents: Kids Should Decide Where They Live/Custody.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 2 Nov. 2012, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/insight-is-2020/201211/divorced-parents-kids-should-decide-where-they-livecustody.
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