You get to court knowing exactly what you want in terms of child custody rights. You know where you want the child to live, how he or she should be raised and what role you want your ex to have in this process.
At the same time, your spouse shows up with his or her own list of desires. You both don't line up on everything. You know you're going to have to put in some time and effort to get what you want or find a compromise that works for both of you.
If you have teenage children, though, you're forgetting one critical component: the children's own desires.
Typically, the court doesn't recognize a younger child's opinions. If your kids were 3 and 5 years old, you could make the proper choices for them.
Once they hit the age of 12, though, courts start to listen to what children want and give them a voice in divorce proceedings. This doesn't mean they get the only voice. Things like parental relationships, living situations, income, criminal records and much more still carry a lot of weight. But one of the factors considered is simply what the child wants. If your 15-year-old knows which parent he or she wants to live with, for instance, that can give that parent the edge when determining how custody rights will be divided.
It's important to know what the court takes into account if you're splitting up. This can help you understand what legal steps to take to fight for your own wishes and rights. With teens, remember that their wishes are often a significant part of the process.
Source: The Spruce, "Child Custody in Hawaii," Debrina Washington, accessed Jan. 30, 2018