I am in a custody battle with my ex-husband. My nine-year-old wants to live with me. Can my nine-year-old simply tell the judge this, and then we are done with this mess? I have heard a child can talk to the judge in “chambers,” but I am not sure what this means.
I am sorry that you and the Father were unable to decide together as the parents what is best for your child. But, if the parents cannot decide, a person in a black robe will make the decision on what the “best interests” of your child is.
First, and I want to say this gently to you, a nine-year-old does not have the maturity to make the decision of where he or she should live and what is in his or her “best interests,” generally. Cases of abuse and neglect are perhaps different, but you do not mention that the child is being abused or neglected by the Father. This answer assumes that there is no abuse or neglect of your child by the Father.
Second, the court does not give “final say” to anyone. The court hears the evidence and judges the credibility, maturity, and objectivity of witnesses, and then the court, in its wisdom, renders a decision. Given the age of your child, in my experience, the judge would give little weight, most likely, to the opinions of a nine-year-old on what living arrangement is best for the child. The court may even consider whether you were influencing the child against the Father, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and give the Father even more time to offset your influence.
Continue reading →