My daughter has said that she does not want to live with me, but she is very young and has been confused by the divorce process—will I lose all custody of her because of this?

The weight a court places on a child’s custody wishes depends on several factors, but usually, your child’s wishes will not make or break your bid for custody.


When courts consider custody, there are two primary factors that are considered before all the rest. First, the child’s adjustment to their home and school life is examined. For very young children, moving to a new school district may not impact their lives much at all. New friends can be made, and scholastically, younger children have an easier time adjusting to new teachers and activities. Older children may be more established in sports, extracurriculars, and social circles, so a custody arrangement may be carefully designed to accommodate their life.


The other primary factor considered when determining custody is a child’s own needs. Many children require regular doctor visits or other medical appointments, so a custodial agreement will need to be reached that accommodates those needs, including special care for disabilities or other special needs.


Your concern about your daughter’s wishes is valid, but it is not likely to ruin your chances at a fair custody arrangement. Her age and maturity will be considered, and typically, very young children are not able to make informed decisions on such important matters. Some exceptions where a child’s wants are more heavily weighted involve matters of domestic violence and other criminal record issues.


For more information about child custody matters in Arizona, contact our Phoenix family law attorneys today by filling out our online contact form or calling our downtown office.