March 28, 2014 By Paul Wallin

In determining child custody, a family court judge’s decision is based on the overall best interest of the child. Since January 1, 2012, the judge can not only hear testimony from both parents before making a child custody decision, but also testimony from the child himself/herself under certain circumstances. Under California Family Code Section 3011, a judge considers the following when making a child custody decision:

Child Custody (2)
Is your child eligible to testify in your child custody battle?
  1. The age of your child
  2. The health, safety and welfare of your child
  3. Your and the other parent’s ability to care for the child
  4. The emotional relationship between you and the child and between the other parent and the child
  5. If you or the other parent have any history of domestic violence or substance abuse
  6. Where your child goes to school
  7. Your child’s involvement in the community


If you or a loved one is seeking a child custody order, an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney can help you fight for a child custody order that is most beneficial to you and your child.

How Old Does My Child Have to Be to Testify in a Child Custody Hearing?

Under California Family Code Section 3042, a child 14 years of age or older has the right to testify in a custody hearing as long as the judge does not rule that doing so would be contrary to the child’s best interest. This law allows a child’s preference to be heard in a child custody hearing. However, the child’s stated preference is not binding – the judge will have the final say and make a ruling in the best interest of the child.

Children under the age of 14 may also testify at the court’s discretion. If a court determines that it would not be in the best interest of a child under the age of 14 to testify, an alternative means must be provided for the child’s preference to be heard. This can be done through a minor’s counsel, mediator, special evaluator or investigator expressing the child’s preferences on behalf of the child.

A Child’s Influence in a Child Custody Modification Hearing

A child’s preference is given more weight and consideration in a child custody modification hearing than an initial child custody/visitation hearing. This is because a child in a child custody modification hearing already has experience living with both parents and can provide a more informed opinion of which parent he/she would like to live with.

In a hearing for an initial child custody/visitation order, there is more uncertainty as to the living arrangements. An arrangement that seems ideal to the child at first may have problems once it is put in place.

Call Wallin & Klarich Today

If you or a loved one is going through a child custody case, it is critical that you speak to an experienced family law attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in handling all types of child custody matters in Southern California. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich Southern California family law attorney near you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 749-7428 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

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