California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 1050 into law, August 27, 2010, requiring family court to “consider and give due weight to the wishes of a child in making an order granting or modifying custody or visitation” and “permit a child who is 14 years of age or older to address the court regarding custody and visitation.” The law passed both houses of the State Congress on August 9, 2010. It goes into effect on January 1, 2012.
Existing law already requires the family court, if a child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to custody, to consider and give due weight to the wishes of the child in making an order granting or modifying custody. In practice, family courts and minor’s counsels have often been reluctant to have children take the stand, even teenagers.
Under the newly enacted law, the court can still preclude a minor from testifying if it determines that doing so is not in the child’s best interests, but the court must now state its reasons for that finding on the record and provide alternative means of obtaining input from the child and other
information regarding the child’s preferences.
Full transcript of the Court’s decision can be found here.