One of the most difficult and emotional parts of a divorce in Pennsylvania is dealing with child custody. It is not easy for a judge to make a decision about this. He or she will try to gather as much information as possible to ensure the decision is the best one for your children. However, a judge’s ability to find out about your family is rather limited. After all, he or she cannot come and watch you interact in your home.
This is why, according to the Pennsylvania Bar Association, courts use a variety of factors to help make a custody determination. One of those factors is what your child has to say about what he or she wants. It is important, though, that the judge does more than just follow whatever your child wants. There is a process involved.
The judge will always consider how old your child is and his or her ability to provide honest and sincere answers. A judge can generally tell if a child is unsure or if he or she does not understand what is happening. The judge will speak with your child and try to develop a rapport that helps him or her to know your child’s mental state and overall ability to give a usable opinion on custody.
The judge will also look into the reason why your child makes the decision he or she does. The judge will often ask a child who he or she wants to live with and then have a discussion about it. The reasons your child gives will help the judge know how much weight to give to your child’s overall preference.
A judge will never base a custody decision solely on what a child wants. This is too big of a decision to be made so lightly. Judges also know coaching happens and that some parents tell children to lie about home situations, so they are always on the lookout for such things. In the end, the judge’s ultimate goal is to create a custody agreement that will help the child be happy, healthy and safe.