The short answer is “no”. But like a lot of answers from lawyers, this is not the end of it.

California Family Code 3042, subsections (a) through (d) specifically state:

(a) If a child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to custody or visitation, the court shall consider, and give due weight to, the wishes of the child in making an order granting or modifying custody or visitation.

(b) In addition to the requirements of subdivision (b) of Section 765 of the Evidence Code, the court shall control the examination of a child witness so as to protect the best interests of the child.

(c) If the child is 14 years of age or older and wishes to address the court regarding custody or visitation, the child shall be permitted to do so, unless the court determines that doing so is not in the child’s best interests. In that case, the court shall state
its reasons for that finding on the record.

(d) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to prevent a child who is less than 14 years of age from addressing the court regarding custody or visitation, if the court determines that is appropriate pursuant to the child’s best interests.

But, and this is important, the court does not have to allow the child to address the court if the court decides it is not in the best interests of said child and even if the court allows the child to address the court, the court does not have to listen to the child.

Mothers and fathers are often dismayed at the results of this policy. Children who are not mature enough to handle any kind of power can be given all the wrong power for all the wrong reasons. They can choose the parent who has looser boundaries and holds the child less accountable as a normal reaction. The parent who is willing to establish clear boundaries and make the child responsible is then facing a popularity contest they cannot win. Children who are treated poorly, or even abused, can often struggle to get in front of the court, being sequestered by the abusive parent. In the end, it is a system that really depends upon competent mediators from Family Court Services to ferret out the truth-something they do not always do well.