Divorce will almost certainly impact the relationship that you have with your children. You will typically spend less time with them than you did before, as they will alternate between households after the divorce.
Shared custody allows both parents to spend time with the children and have an influence on their education, living arrangements and healthcare choices. It can be difficult for parents to cooperate with one another when negotiating custody matters, which might mean you have to go to court.
Will your children get to decide where they live in a litigated custody situation?
Older children can influence the proceedings
The wishes of the children can influence how a judge rules once they reach a certain age. Once a child turns 14, their personal preferences can influence how a judge rules regarding custody matters for their family. However, the child’s wishes will not dictate what the judge decides but merely be one of several factors that influence the final choice.
The judge will consider the child’s reasoning for their stated preference and also how mature they seem to be, as well as the existing relationship they have with each parent and the consequences of limiting their time with one parent. In a scenario where there has been significant conflict between the child and one of the parents or there is a history of substance abuse or violence, a judge may agree with a child’s request to spend most or all of their time with one parent.
However, it is typical for judges to try to preserve both parental relationships and to encourage the children to spend time with both adults.
What does this mean for you?
If your relationship with your children has been difficult since you first started talking about divorce, you may worry that the children will ask to live with the other parent and effectively cut you out of their lives.
A judge is unlikely to eliminate your parenting time or your custody rights over a minor conflict with your teenage child. Instead, they will likely encourage your child and the other parent to work with you to rebuild the relationship so that you can spend plenty of time together.
Learning more about the rules that apply in litigated custody cases in New Mexico can help parents who feel worried about their relationship with their children.