Why Kids Do Not Make Custody Decisions

Law Blog

Some parents may feel that a child should be left to live with their preferred parent after divorce. Courts disagree, however, and there are good reasons for the disagreement. Below are some of the wrong reasons a child might prefer one child over another.

Parental Needs

One of the dangers of relying on kids to make custody decisions is that kids might put the needs of children above their needs. For example, a child may see that one parent is lonely, more stricken with the divorce, or needs help with household chores, and opt to live with that parent. That would be unfortunate because custody arrangements are meant to look out for the best interests of the children and not parents since kids can't fend for themselves.

Material Things

Another problem is that kids are more easily swayed by material things than adults. Most kids have not learned to prioritize things and may place more emphasis on wealth or entertainment than other things. For example, a child may choose to live with the wealthier parent, the parent with the nicer car, or the parent in the bigger house. A child can even decide to live with the parent who treats them more often, for example, by taking them to theme parks.

Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is a practice in which one parent vilifies or demonizes the other parent in the presence of a child. The intention is usually to drive a wedge between the two either as a 'punishment' for the other parent or to have more time with the child. For example, a parent practicing parental alienation might tell the child how the other parent doesn't love them or how the other parent doesn't want to live with them. The child may end up disliking that demonized parent and chose the one who is actually bad (parental alienation is a form of child abuse).

Parental Pressure

There are also parents who pressure their children into choosing them when parents break up. Don't forget that children are vulnerable to such pressures. Many children don't want to disappoint their children and may give in to such pressure as a way of pleasing their parents.

Discipline Avoidance

Lastly, a child can even choose one parent over the other to avoid being disciplined. Maybe one parent is lax with discipline, doesn't care if the child stays out late, and is not strict with school work also. Whereas such indifference is detrimental to a child's welfare, some kids may not see the inherent harm.

To learn more, contact a child custody lawyer today. 


8 November 2019