Entertainment Love and Romance Considering the Child's Wishes When Determining Child Custody Information About the Court's Consideration of a Child's Wishes Share PINTEREST Email Print Leonora Saunders/Cultura/Getty Images Love and Romance Divorce Relationships Sexuality Teens LGBTQ Friendship By Debrina Washington Family law attorney and writer University of Pittsburgh School of Law Skidmore College Debrina L. Washington is a New York-based family law attorney and writer, who runs her own virtual practice to assist single parents with legal issues. our editorial process Debrina Washington Updated May 23, 2019 Question: How much weight does the child's wishes have on whether or not the court grants custody to a parent? The short answer is it depends. Some courts will consider the child's wishes to be a determinative factor for a child custody determination. However, for the most part, a child's preference is not considered as a significant factor. Here is more information about a court's decision on whether to consider a child's wishes during a child custody case: Factors Considered Regarding the Child's Wishes and Child Custody During a child custody hearing, a court may decide to hear the testimony of a child to assist in the court's ruling of a child custody hearing. In considering the child's wishes, using the best interests of the child standard, a court will consider the following factors: Child's ageChild's maturityChild's ability to make an informed, reasonable decision In deciding how much weight to put on a child's wishes, a court will consider the following factors prior to making a child custody decision: Domestic Violence When a parent has been accused or convicted of domestic violence, a child may not wish to reside with the parent, especially if the child witnessed or was the victim of the domestic violence. In instances of domestic violence, a court will most likely consider the child's wishes as a significant factor in determining whether or not a parent should get custody of a child. Lack of a Relationship Courts may hear the child's testimony through a guardian ad litem about the child's relationship with the parents. Although, courts will consider lack of a relationship as evidence of a child's desire to reside with one parent over the other, most courts will allow a parent an opportunity to heal the relationship with the child in spite of past issues. Siblings in Primary Parent's Home A court may hear a child's testimony about preference to reside with one parent if a child doesn't want to spend time away from his/her siblings. A court may determine that it is in the child's best interests to be with his/her siblings. Despite the information mentioned above, a child's preference rarely has significant weight, as most courts allow a parent the opportunity to form a significant relationship with a child, in spite of the past. For more information about the best interests of a child, refer to child custody guidelines about your state or speak to a qualified attorney in your state.