When it comes to determining the custody of children during the divorce process, several factors are considered, including the expressed preference of the child. (For a list of other factors considered, see our post: “Obtaining Custody in Oregon.”)
As long as the child’s preference is not against his or her best interests, it will be considered alongside the other factors and assigned weight appropriate to the strength of the reasons given and the maturity of the child. In Tingen v. Tingen (1968), for example, the court examined the children, and their ages and responses to questions indicated that they were “old enough to express an intelligent, meaningful, and well considered preference.” The court will consider your child’s preference using the same analysis as they did in Tingen case; that is, the more mature and reasoned your child’s preference is, the more likely their preference will sway the judge.
The process to allow a judge to consider a child’s opinion is complicated. In some situations it may be necessary to hire an attorney to represent the child for the sole purpose of allowing the attorney to speak in the child’s stead in the courtroom. There are several other ways to allow the child’s testimony to be heard by a judge as well, depending on the particular circumstances of your case.
Legal advice can make the difference. Visit the website of McGuire Thompson, LLC at portlandfamilylaw.com for more information and help with child custody or any of your divorce related matters.