House Bill 1012, which has been passed by the Texas Legislature and is awaiting the Governor’s approval, eliminates the provisions for a written designation by a child over the age of 12 years to choose with whom he or she wants to reside primarily. Instead, a child over the age of 12 years has a right to express a preference to the judge in chambers as to the name of the person who is the child’s preference to have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child. The new law will take effect September 1, 2009 and will apply to any pending or newly filed suit.
Comment: As a Dallas divorce attorney, I have found that judges rarely appreciate parents who involved their children in the legal matters by having a child sign a written preference. I have also found that judges rarely appreciate parents who involved their children in the legal matters by requesting the judge to interview the child in chambers. Judges are more tolerant with an older teenager than a younger one, as older teenagers are more prone to strong preferences and to act out if their voice is not considered.
See related blog entry Changes to the Texas Standard Possession Schedule.