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Child Custody – Family Counseling

Marriage of Brown & Yana – California Supreme Court

This matter involved a divorced mother’s decision to move to Las Vegas from San Luis Obispo County. She intended to take with her, her son Cameron who was 12 years old at the time of the court’s decision, her new children and her new spouse. The child’s father opposed the move and, not being, able to resolve the matter amicably, a move away battle began in court. The court appointed a lawyer for Cameron who stated that Cameron was “a conflicted young man” who said” different things at different times” based upon who he happened to be with at the time.

After a hearing the court allowed the mother to move to Las Vegas and allowed her to take Cameron with her. However, as the case found it’s way through the legal system and all the way to the California Supreme Court, Cameron became a not so little teenager. Cameron decided that he preferred to move back with his father to San Luis Obispo County and so left his mother and new family in Las Vegas.

The question here is does a 12 year old child have the final say regarding which parent they would prefer to live with. As far as the law is concerned the answer is probably ” No”. We must realize that while the case went through the court system Cameron became a teenager and that changed everything.  California Family Code Section 3042 provides that court’s may consider the preference of a child in making custody orders if the court feels that the child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to where he/she would wish to live. The implication of the Code Section is that the child can have a significant impact in divorce and post divorce custody matters. This is certainly something to consider before spending the time, money and emotions fighting over custody of the teenage children. You may initially be successful in getting the custody order you want, only to have the child make a decision later to change those arrangements.

A good alternative for the family in conflict is the mediation process and/or family counseling.

Adapted by Jeff Oliver (2013)

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