One of the most contentious issues in any divorce is child custody. Parents need to settle on both legal and physical custody and consider what is ultimately in the best interest of the child.

For most situations, the court will try to split this so that each parent has 50 percent custody. However, there may be circumstances where it would be prudent for a child to spend more time with one parent over the other. In some cases, sole legal and physical custody may be an option. Numerous pieces of criteria come into play, and one piece of evidence a judge in California may consider is the child’s own testimony.

A child can speak to the judge or a family court mediator

It often works in everyone’s best interest if the spouses can settle on certain matters outside of court. Many divorcing couples seek mediation to determine how to divide assets. In some situations, the child may speak with the mediator when neither parent is present, so the child feels more comfortable voicing an opinion. In some cases, the judge may determine the child is mature enough to address a courtroom.

For this to happen, the judge needs to determine a child is of “sufficient age and capacity to reason.” A 10-year-old may be mature enough to have a valid opinion on the matter. Meanwhile, it is possible a 14-year-old with a delinquent record is not yet mature enough for this matter.

The judge can weigh the child’s opinion accordingly

A judge will never force a child to take the stand in court. However, if the child wants to and the judge approves it, then it is possible. The child’s testimony will only serve as one piece of evidence when deciding upon child custody. A child may want to spend 100 percent of the time with one parent, but a judge knows the child needs both parents.