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Does the Judge take into account the opinion of the children before deciding which parent will have custody?

The child’s opinion will be taken in to account if the Judge believes he/she is in age of having a point of view. French Judges usually admit this capacity from the age of 7 or 8, depending on the maturity of the child. Theoretically the child can testify in Court but this is quite unusual. To avoid the trauma of a court appearance a lawyer “l’avocat de l’enfant” is usually appointed to represent the child, at the request of one of the parents.

This lawyer is paid by legal aid and is completely independent from the parents. He/she has received a special training on how to interview children and will speak in the name of the child during court hearings.
This is a relatively reliable way of giving the position of the child on custody, visitation rights etc…