27 Nov A Child’s Voice in Custody Hearings
According to Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, children have a right to their own opinion—and to express them—when it comes to changes in their lives and family dynamics. If a child is considered “old enough,” which may vary from child to child in New Jersey, they may be allowed to speak at child custody hearings, and that’s where Bloom Law Office can help. A child’s opinion may sway a judge’s decision on living arrangements—and ultimately their future.
Although Article 12 has been in effect for years, it opens up a wide gray area. There’s a lot of subjectivity, including what’s considered “old enough.” Plus, a child’s voice doesn’t guarantee that their wishes will be granted by a judge. Their best interest is always the priority, and may not necessarily be what they would prefer. However, a child’s opinion has been increasingly accepted in courtrooms around the country.
When A Child’s Opinion Matters in Custody
Even though a child’s opinion won’t necessarily be the final say, most judges want to hear and consider a mature child’s feelings on divorce proceedings. This wasn’t always the case. For example, in the Roman Empire, children were the father’s property. Fathers were even able to sell their children into slavery and mothers had zero legal rights. This changed in 19th century Britain when the mothers were considered the primary caregivers and most often granted custody. We have fortunately come a long way, but the dissolution of a family is still tricky.
Modern courts aim to be gender-neutral, although it’s still most common to have primary custody granted to mothers. Still, judges consider many factors when deciding a custody case, and that includes the testimony and opinions of the child. In Canada, researchers have found that children and judges benefit when a child is active in a custody hearing. A child usually either confirms or contradicts statements made by one or both parents and can be very valuable material for the judge.
Jeffrey M. Bloom Specializes in Child Custody – Call For A Consultation
In most cases, a child should be at least 14 years old to have their opinion heard, but there is some wiggle room. Learn more about a child’s opinion in custody hearings and book your consultation with Bloom Law Office today – 855-208-3650.