As Texas kids get older, sharing time between their divorced parents can become more difficult, especially as the children begin to express where they would prefer to spend their time. However, the judge may take the children's opinion into consideration under some circumstances when resolving the child custody dispute.
Although the children's wishes may be considered initially, they may not be considered if the court does not believe that living with the noncustodial parent will be in the children's best interests. If there is no custody agreement but the co-parents can agree, the children may be given the ability to choose who they live with without having to go through the court system.
Before a judge will take the children's wishes into consideration, the children must appear to be mature enough to make this type of decision. Determining if the children are mature enough can be difficult, as some children may simply wish to live with the parent who has more lenient rules. While the children may wish for a home that has less rules and structure, this may not be in the children's best interests. If the children are younger, the court may have to determine if the noncustodial parent is influencing the children's wishes.
Although courts are tasked to make custodial decisions that are in the best interests of the child, there may be cases where the parents can work together to allow their children to make their own. Even if the children do decide to live primarily with one parent over the other, noncustodial parents may still wish to have some sort of visitation schedule so that they can continue to maintain a relationship with their children. A family law attorney may assist with getting that schedule incorporated into a court order.