Will a judge allow my son to express his feelings in our custody case?

Pierre Domercq Child Custody and Visitation

Question:
My 14 year old child attends school in the Carlsbad school district where his mother lives and wants to continue to attend the same school. He tells me he wants to tell the Judge that even though I live in the Vista school district he wants to live with me and visit his mother. Is the judge going to allow him to express his feelings?
Answer:
All the best family law and divorce attorneys know that as of the beginning of last year the landscape changed regarding custody and visitation hearings in California. A child is now readily allowed to speak with the judge or else other procedures are adopted so the child’s wishes and preference can be known and considered by the Court.
The statue says:
“(a) If a child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to custody or visitation, the court shall consider, and give due weight to, the wishes of the child in making an order granting or modifying custody or visitation.
(b) In addition to the requirements of subdivision (b) of Section 765 of the Evidence Code, the court shall control the examination of a child witness so as to protect the best interests of the child.
(c) If the child is 14 years of age or older and wishes to address the court regarding custody or visitation, the child shall be permitted to do so, unless the court determines that doing so is not in the child’s best interests. In that case, the court shall state its reasons for that finding on the record.
(d) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to prevent a child who is less than 14 years of age from addressing the court regarding custody or visitation, if the court determines that is appropriate pursuant to the child’s best interests.
(e) If the court precludes the calling of any child as a witness, the court shall provide alternative means of obtaining input from the child and other information regarding the child’s preferences.
(f) To assist the court in determining whether the child wishes to express his or her preference or to provide other input regarding custody or visitation to the court, a minor’s counsel, an evaluator, an investigator, or a mediator who provides recommendations to the judge pursuant to Section 3183 shall indicate to the judge that the child wishes to address the court, or the judge may make that inquiry in the absence of that request. A party or a party’s attorney may also indicate to the judge that the child wishes to address the court or judge.
(g) Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the child to express to the court his or her preference or to provide other input regarding custody or visitation.
(h) The Judicial Council shall, no later than January 1, 2012, promulgate a rule of court establishing procedures for the examination of a child witness, and include guidelines on methods other than direct testimony for obtaining information or other input from the child regarding custody or visitation.
(i) The changes made to subdivisions (a) to (g), inclusive, by the act adding this subdivision shall become operative on January 1, 2012. (Am Stats 2010, C187)”
The rule of court to implement the statute says:
“Children’s participation in family law matters must be considered on a case-by-case basis. No statutory mandate, rule, or practice requires children to participate in court or prohibits them from doing so. When a child wishes to participate, the court should find a balance between protecting the child, the statutory duty to consider the wishes of and input from the child, and the probative value of the child’s input while ensuring all parties’ due process rights to challenge evidence relied upon by the court in making custody decisions.”