Law Offices of Scot Stuart Brower provides you with confidence and peace of mind that your case is in the right hands.

When can a child decide which parent to live with after divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2024 | Family Law

As a parent going through a divorce in Hawaii, you may be wondering if your child has a say in custody decisions. Can they decide which parent to live with post-divorce, and at what age can this happen?

While Hawaii child custody laws do not specify the age at which a child can make such decisions independently, the court will consider their preferences when determining custody arrangements. Here is what you need to know.

The child’s age and maturity matters

The court will look at the child’s age and maturity or capacity to reason and form an intelligent preference about where they would want to live. Generally, as children get older and more mature, their opinions carry more weight in custody decisions.

However, a child’s preference is not necessarily a decisive factor in custody decisions. The court will decide the way forward based on the child’s best interests, even if it’s against their wishes. Some of the factors that may weigh in the court’s decision during custody proceedings include:

  • The child’s emotional and physical needs
  • Each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs and effectively discharge their parental duties
  • The stability of each parent’s home environment
  • The child’s relationship with each parent

It’s worth noting that family courts in Hawaii have broad discretion in child custody cases. As such, the decision ultimately rests with the judge presiding over the matter. They may, for example, speak directly with the child in a private setting to understand their wishes and the reasoning behind them. This helps identify undue influence by either parent to sway the child’s preferences.

Child custody cases can be complex and emotionally charged. In addition, many variables may come into play and affect the court’s decision. Reaching out for legal guidance to understand and protect your parental rights can help present a compelling case that aligns with your child’s best interests.