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Age and the child's preference are not an absolute factors in deciding who should have custody of the children. There are many factors that a court will consider when awarding/changing custody such as location, financial status, health, home environment, age, child's preference and time for the child.
As the children get older (10-18), a court will consider the child's preference more strongly because the child is mature enough to be rational about the situation. However, the main issues seem to be financial ability to support the child and available time to spend with the child.
That is not true. A child's preference is only part of the decision making process. The court will look at the fitness of the persons seeking custody, the adaptability of the prospective custodian to the task, the age, sex and health of the child, the physical, spiritual and moral well-being of the child, the environment and surroundings in which the child will be reared, the influences likely to be exerted on the child, and, if he or she is old enough to make a rational choice, the preference of the child. It stands to reason that the fitness of a person to have custody is of vital importance. The paramount consideration, however, is the general overall well-being of the child."
Regarding the child's preference factor, the supreme court has stated that it is simply one factor to be considered, within the context of all other relevant factors. There are cases that say that the child's own wishes may be consulted and given weight if he is of sufficient age and capacity to form a rational judgment. It is not the whim of the child that the court respects, but its feelings, attachments, reasonable preference and probable contentment." As such, custody cannot be denied to the non-custodial parent simply because the child says he or she does not want to spend time with his or her mother or father. Good luck and feel free to ask any follow-ups.