If you and your spouse are parents facing divorce, child custody matters will be of utmost importance.

How much will the preference of your 11-year-old son impact the decision of the judge overseeing your case?

Main issues

In awarding custody of a minor child in a divorce case, the major factors the court will consider include whether there has been any history of child abuse or criminal convictions. The court must also decide which of the parents appears better able to facilitate a relationship between the child and the other parent.

Pennsylvania law

In 2011, a Pennsylvania law established 16 specific points a judge must use in order to decide child custody. Highlights include:

  • The preference of the child
  • The parent more likely to provide a “loving, stable, consistent, and nurturing relationship”
  • The parent more likely to provide for the emotional, physical and developments needs of the child
  • Whether a conflict exists that would affect co-parent cooperation in raising the child
  • Whether the parents live in close proximity to one another
  • The physical and mental state of every member of the household

Best interests of the child

If divorcing parents cannot come to agreement on child custody, the court may require that they undergo counseling. Taking the recommendations of the counselor into consideration, the judge may award either sole or joint custody. The decision, however, always focuses on the best interests of the child. If your 11-year-old son shows a level of maturity and judgment, the judge may also give weight to his opinions and preferences in determining child custody.