As you and your spouse get divorced, you know that you need to determine where the children are going to live. Both you and your spouse believe that you/they should have custody and that they should live with you/them. In order to settle the matter, your spouse suggests that you should just ask the children where they want to live. Let them pick which home they want to be in after the divorce.
But is this actually a tactic that you should use? It may not be nearly as beneficial as your spouse believes it to be, and it can even make the situation worse.
Making children pick sides
First and foremost, many experts say that you should not make children pick sides. Don’t make them choose one parent or the other. This can create a source of trauma that can last for the rest of their lives. The children may feel very guilty about having to pick one parent over the other, even if they insist that they want to vocalize preferences about where they’ll live. Additionally, setting a “taking sides” precedent can lead to things like parental alienation and conflicts between co-parents.
The court may not care
Another thing to remember is that the court might not care where your children decide to live and may not honor their wishes. It is true that children are usually allowed to express these wishes if the court thinks they’re old enough. But that doesn’t mean that the court has to abide by those wishes or give in to them.
Likewise, the court will also listen to your wishes and your spouse’s, but it is not obligated to do what you would like, either. The court is going to make this custody decision based on the best interests of the child, and the child’s wishes are only one factor that it will consider in the event that you and your spouse can’t reach a mutually-agreeable solution without judicial intervention.
Complicated child custody arrangements
A child custody situation like this can get contentious and complicated, especially when no one can agree on what the future co-parenting situation should look like. As you navigate your circumstances, be sure you are well aware of all of your rights as a parent and your legal options. Seeking legal guidance proactively is likely wise.