In a child custody battle, TV shows sometimes show the child have a say—their wishes are respected. Is this the case in real life? Will a judge listen to whom the child wants to live with? Here's a look at real life elements of child custody battles.

Not If Parents Agree

Not all divorces will end up in court. Custody hearings may just end up being a formal element of the proceedings, just to make sure the children are looked after. Sometimes the parents will be able to decide between themselves. They may want to ensure their children have equal chances with both parents, so the children are not disadvantaged in any way.

In these cases, the judges will not usually listen to the children. The parents have agreed, and the judge will usually honor that agreement.

Other Factors Are Involved

Even when the parents don't agree, the child won't usually have the main say. The judges will look at other factors involved in the battle. While the children may want to live with their mother, for example, if she has proven unable to care for them then the judge will need to consider that seriously. There are also therapists and social workers who will be consulted for a decision.

It is up to the judge to make sure the children get the best support in life. Listening to all the evidence helps to ensure that. While a child may want to live with one parent, there are chances that they don't know the potential harm they could come to.

Children's Choices Will Be Considered

Despite all that, the judge will generally ask the children who they want to live with after the divorce. While this does not necessarily mean the child will definitely get their preference, the judge will take it into consideration.

It will also depend on the age of the child. Older children and teenagers are more likely able to make a more sound judgment. Younger children may not really understand how big this decision is.

A child isn't forced into making a decision either. In some cases, children will not want to say, for fear fear of upsetting one parent or another. They may not even have a preference, but not be able to tell the judge that.

It is worth arranging the child custody between yourselves as the parents. Come to a decision that factors in abilities and dangers. If you can't do it, a judge will and while the children may be asked a preference, it is not always going to work out that they get that. For more information, contact a local divorce attorney