Law Office of Kevin Jensen - March 2018

What Say Does My Child Have in Their Custody Case?

I wish I had a dollar for every time I was asked, “At what age does my child get to decide which parent they want to live with?” I would probably be writing this from a beach somewhere in Hawaii. The truth is, unlike some other states, Arizona doesn’t have a specific age where a child simply gets to choose which guardian they want to live with. Arizona requires the family court judge to determine what is in the best interest of the child in these cases. In making the determination, the judge must consider several factors outlined in Arizona’s “best interest” statute — one of which is the wishes of the child based on their age and maturity. Ultimately, the court determines at what age each child can adequately express their wishes and whether that child is mature enough to understand the possible ramifications of such

a decision. So, where and how exactly does an Arizona child have an opportunity to express their wishes? Typically, a parent must ask for the child to be interviewed. Though the statute doesn’t specify a minimum age for this process, most judges won’t consider allowing a child to be interviewed before they’ve reached the age of 10. If the judge determines an interview is necessary, they will often appoint an interviewer, usually from Conciliation Services, to speak with the child in a fairly laid-back discussion. In particularly difficult cases, they may send a court-appointed advisor to ascertain their wishes.

determination, though certainly not their sole consideration. It’s important to realize, though, that such an interview can be very traumatic for a child, but it really can be a significant factor in figuring out their long-term parenting plan. Never coerce or coach a child prior to an interview — it’s not right to manipulate them, and if the court catches wind that a parent has been coaching their child for the interview, it will almost always work against that parent. Whether or not you ask to have your child interviewed is an important decision, and you should absolutely discuss it with your attorney. It’s certainly not to be taken lightly, but it can be an important and meaningful strategy in your custody case.

Regardless of how it’s done, the wishes of the child are an important factor in the judge’s



When you think of St. Patrick’s Day cuisine, corned beef and green beer are probably the first things that come to mind. This year, consider adding colcannon to your March 17 menu. It’s basically mashed potatoes on steroids, and it’s utterly delicious.


• 1 pound cooked bacon, chopped into small pieces • 4 scallions, finely chopped • Parsley, for garnish • Salt and pepper, to taste 4. Add cabbage, bacon, and scallions to mashed potatoes, gently stirring to combine. 5. Serve garnished with parsley and a pat of butter.

• 3 pounds potatoes • 2 sticks butter • 1 1/4 cups hot milk • 1 head cabbage, cored and shredded


1. Steam potatoes for 30 minutes. Peel skins and mash flesh thoroughly. 2. Chop 1 stick of butter into small cubes and add to warm potatoes. Once melted, slowly add milk, stirring constantly. 3. Boil cabbage in water. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to tenderize.

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