Divorce often puts children in very precarious positions. They may feel a tremendous amount of guilt, especially when older kids have a preference when it comes to child custody. They may wish to live with one parent full time instead of the other, and California courts may take their desire into consideration if it can be shown that their preference is made intelligently and realistically -- usually around their mid to late teens.
The opinions of older, more mature children hold more credence with the court. The court also has the power to decide if a child can be a witness in a custody case. However, no court will intentionally put a child in the middle of a custody case since that would not be in the best interests of the child. But, since 2011, California must allow kids who are 14 or older to be able to voice their opinions regarding custody and/or visitation.
The court will make a decision based on what it feels is best for the children, taking into consideration any testimony the kids have given. Also, a lawyer, mediator, investigator or an evaluator may also speak to the court on the child's behalf. Children are never beholden to speak to the court.
When ruling on child custody, a California court will take many things into consideration. A family law attorney may be able to provide guidance for his or her client's unique situation. A lawyer will know the state laws that clearly define a child's rights in divorce situations. Clearly, all those involved, including legal counsel, are concerned with what is best for the children involved.
Source: childcustodycoach.com, "At What Age Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With?", Accessed on May 3, 2018