Divorce often brings uncertainty about the role that parents will get to play in the lives of their children, especially if you and your ex would both prefer to have primary custody. It’s common to worry that your ex could totally cut you off from your children if the divorce turns sour.
The thought of losing custody of your kids might be enough motivation for you to stay in an unhappy marriage indefinitely. You love your children and want to remain a significant part of their lives.
If your children are high school age or close to it, they may already have their own preferences about their living arrangements after the divorce. Will the North Dakota courts consider your child preferences when they divide custody between former spouses?
The preferences of mature and responsible children can influence a judge
Under North Dakota law, a judge has to consider many different family factors when deciding the best way to split up custody. They will look at the pre-existing relationships between the children and the parents, the income and stability of the parents, and possibly even the wishes of the children.
The judge will have to make a determination based on the personality and maturity of the individual child as to how much weight their preference might carry. A child’s wishes can certainly influence the way that a judge decides to allocate parenting time.
However, it’s important for parents to know that having children speak up on their preferences during custody proceedings can sometimes prove damaging. The child may experience stress and worry about hurting the relationship with the other parent.
Are there ways for you to take the stress off of your kids?
Divorce is hard for children, and extreme conflict or personal tension can absolutely make it more difficult. Given that the courts are likely to give both parents at least a partial role in the lives of the children in a North Dakota divorce, not pressuring your children about taking sides may be a better approach than asking them to testify and ask to live with you.