I have visitation with my kids. The are 15 and 16 years old and have decided they want to live with me so I file for modification of custody. How can they be heard. I have been told that probation can interview them.How do I get them interviewed? With a motion? What kind?
Family Law Attorney
Yes you can file a motion to ask that they be interview by the Family Service Office. The judge may refuse that, only because the FSO is understaffed and overbooked, a now common problem since our esteemed Legislature does not feel the Probate & Family Court system is worthy of proper staffing. I digress. The alternative to FSO will be the appointment of a GAL, which you would have to pay for or for which cost would be split between you and ex. If the GAL's investigation is limited to interviewing you, ex and kids, I would hope it would not be too expensive.
To questioners from West Virginia & New York: Although I am licensed to practice in your state, I practice on a day-to-day basis in Massachusetts. I answer questions in your state in areas of the law in which I practice, and in which I feel comfortable trying to offer you assistance based on my knowledge of specific statutes in your state and/or general principles applicable in all states. It is always best, however, to work with attorneys and court personnel in your own area to deal with specific problems and factual situations.
Family Law Attorney
Some experts consider it child abuse to even ask a child to testify in court - especially to express a preference for one parent over the other. (Though I think this largely applies to younger children; teenagers have a bit more independence.) The usual means to let a child's preferences be known are a professional custody evaluation, or the appointment of an attorney to represent the children in the case. You should consult with an attorney in private to discuss these options.
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Family Law Attorney
The court may take your children's preference into consideration when making a custody decision. You should file a complaint for modification requesting custody and support from the other parent. The court may order a guardian ad litem perform an evaluation to determine what would be best for the children. The GAL will interview the children, both parents, and any other individuals who may prove helpful (i.e. other family members, teachers, doctors, etc.). The court will make its decision based on what is in the best interests of the children - this is not always what the children want. This can be a bit complicated, so I strongly urge you to consult with an attorney. Best of luck.
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