When you make the decision to end your marriage, you and your spouse move into two separate households. When you file for divorce, your name and your spouse’s name appear on the docket. When you walk away from the divorce, you do so with your half of the marital estate.
Divorce is between you and your spouse, but it affects a few more people if you have children. It is safe to say that your children will have their own opinions about what they want to happen, but do they have a say in custody proceedings?
RCW 26.10.120 grants family court judges the authority to interview a child in their chambers. Judges can listen to the child’s wishes about custody and visitation. Yes, judges can consider the child’s wishes as a factor in their decisions.
As a parent, you know that your children do not always know what is best for them. They ask for ice cream before eating their vegetables. They forget that they are afraid of monsters under the bed when they ask to watch a scary movie. They want to stay out all night because “Tommy’s mom said he can.”
Simply put, your children cannot always get their way. They do not in family court either. Judges may listen to your child when determining custody matters. Judges may ask your children questions about life at home, who they consider their friends and whether or not they like the school that they attend. Remember that they may consider a child’s wishes, but it is only one factor among many.