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How Alaskan courts consider child preference in custody cases

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2021 | Child Custody And Support |

Parents with an upcoming custody hearing may be extremely concerned about how the judge will factor in the children’s preferences.

Though this is a valid worry, courts in Alaska do take some children’s desires into consideration when ruling on custody arrangements.

Is there an age requirement for child preference consideration?

While there is no specific age at which Alaskan courts consider a child’s input for custody arrangement, the courts determine whether a child is old and mature enough to provide a reasonable opinion. A judge makes a decision based on the individual child or children in each case.

Typically a court grants the preference of an older child more significance than those of a younger child. This is because many judges believe outside influences, such as parents, can sway smaller youngsters’ opinions more easily than more mature children’s opinions.

When a court views a child as responsible and the kid expresses a reasonable justification for desiring to live with one parent over the other, the child’s request is typically granted. However, if the presiding judge believes the preferred arrangement would be detrimental to the minor’s best interest, the court may not rule in favor of the child’s proposal.

When does the court ignore child preference?

Courts in Alaska dismiss a child’s preference if they deem the rationale for the selection immature or invalid. For example, if a minor cites a parent’s appropriate discipline as the reason for preferring to live with a less-strict parent, the court can deny that request.

Each child custody case in Alaska is unique, and therefore courts maintain the authority to make decisions based on the individual needs of the families.