The Texas Family Code provides that children 12 and over can communicate directly to a judge relating to his/her preference on where they want to live.
However, the judge ultimately decides whether it is in the child’s best interest to change the primary residence of the child based on his/her preference.
A number of factors have been found in Texas courts to not be in the best interest to change the residence of the child, despite an expressed preference:
- Child gets into fight with custodial parent relating to reasonable and rational rules of the home.
- Child has more freedom to be at home alone, go out on weekends, or be in a relationship with another person.
- Child wants to leave the home because they get into disagreement with a sibling.
- Child has alcohol or drug problem and wants to leave the home to enable continued drug use.
A number of factors have been found in Texas courts to be in the best interest to change the residence of the child, along with the expressed preference:
- Grades suffer and no action is taken by custodial parent.
- Child has been previously alienated from other non-custodial parent and would benefit from change of residence.
- Child has half siblings or step-siblings that the child wishes to bond with at non-custodial parent’s home.
- Custodial parent is not active in the school and extracurricular activities of the child.
It benefits a parent wishing to have custody of a child, 12 and over to specifically reference in a motion to modify custody (with evidence) to back up why the change in primary residence is in the best interest of the child.