Generally, a court will take into their consideration the age of the child. The court, generally, does not like to speak with the children, but they will if they have to in a certain situation. The children’s preference is important but it is not the end all, be all; it is not the final decision. What the court will look at is who is the parent that primarily did discipline the children. Who worked with the children on their homework? Who was the parent that was picking the children up when the children were sick at school? Who is the parent who dealt with all the heavy lifting types of parenting issues that you have to do?
Once parents separate, the parent who was the “fun parent” will frequently have to do some of the heavy lifting also. As children get older, the homework is harder, and frequently, the parent that was the fun parent is going to realize that okay, every other weekend and certain days during the week, I have to be there. I can’t just be doing only fun things with them because I am the only person that is there to do the homework, to make sure that it gets done, to tell them to make their bed, to tell them they have to take a shower, to do all that difficult parenting thing. Although they may still be perceived as the fun parent, children learn very frequently and very quickly that the fun parent is no longer as fun as what they once perceived them as.
Alison C. Leslie, Esq. practices family law exclusively in her Morristown, NJ offices, where she offers her clients the individualized attention of a solo practitioner with the experience of a larger firm.