New Hampshire is one of several states that does not allow children to decide on their custody arrangements. This is similar to how custody works in South Dakota, New York, North Carolina and a handful of other states.
Essentially, in New Hampshire, a judge is not required to listen to or consider a child’s custody preferences. Instead, the judge has to consider what would be in the child’s best interests, even if the child does not want what the judge is ordering.
Do any states allow children to decide on custody issues?
Did you know that there is only one state in the country that allows a child to specifically choose who to live with? That state is Georgia, and it still requires the child to be at least 14 and for the judge to agree with their decision.
The majority of states allow a judge to listen to a child’s preferences when determining custody. Then, in the minority of states, judges do not have to consider a child’s preferences at all.
Why don’t all judges have to listen to the children?
There is a debate among some legal professionals that explains why every state is so different. Basically, a child who doesn’t have a say may not need to be in court and may be more easily shielded from the parental disputes that may be ongoing. Children who get to have a say may make decisions that aren’t necessarily in their best interests, either. This is because it is possible for the parent to sway their child’s opinion, and that would not be beneficial to anyone in the case.
In New Hampshire, the judge doesn’t have to consider what your child wants to do, so it’s more important for you and your spouse to talk about what would be best for your child and to do that. If you realize that your child does have a preference for where they live and have an understanding of why, it would be kind and potentially reasonable to consider those preferences when you come up with a custody schedule for them to follow.