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Can a Child Make Custody and Parenting Time Decisions?

| May 5, 2014 | Firm News

Answer:  No.  There is not a specific age when the Court allows a child to determine who they will live with or how often they will have parenting time with the non-custodial parent.  Until a child turns age 18, the court has jurisdiction to determine custody and parenting time issues.  Generally, the Court will give more weight to the preferences of an older child, as long as that child’s preference is not contrary to their best interests.

There are various ways, however, by which a child can have input into a custody or parenting time determination:

1.     Under ORS 107.425(6), the Court may appoint counsel to represent a child in a domestic relations proceeding.  The attorney appointed for the child can advocate for the child’s wishes.  If a child requests the appointment of an attorney, the Court shall appoint an attorney to represent the child.

2.     If a custody or parenting time evaluation is conducted pursuant to ORS 107.425(2), typically the child will be interviewed and the evaluator may take the child’s views into account (again, the older the child, the more likely his/her views will hold weight with the evaluator).

3.     A child can testify in Court and tell the Court his or her preference for custody and/or parenting time.  However, this can be a risky proposition – many judges do not like children testifying in court, as they do not believe that a child should be put in the middle of “adult issues.”