At What Age Can a Child Choose Who to Live With?
The opinions of children do not carry a lot of weight in determining which parent obtains custody. Depending on the age and maturity of your children, a judge may consider their opinions, but your children cannot ultimately decide where they will live until they are 17.
When a Child’s Opinion Matters
Child custody is based on the best interests of the children and the fact is that children are often unaware of what is in their best interests, especially if they are very young. Therefore, their opinions are generally not major factors in determining custody. That said, a judge might consider their opinions if they appear mature and able to express the reasoning behind their choice of parent. Even under these circumstances, however, their opinions would only be one small factor among several others.
Below are some of the other factors that are considered in a child custody case:
- The relationship the children have with each parent
- The ability of each parent to provide their children with a safe home, food, and clothing
- The ability of each parent to cooperate as co-parents
- If there is a history of child abuse or domestic abuse
- If either parent has a history of substance abuse
- The preference of each parent
- The overall mental and physical health of each parent
Why Your Children Cannot Determine Custody
Children of divorcing parents often feel a lot of anxiety regarding the future and whether they could have done anything to prevent the divorce. Letting children decide which parent to live with would only add more pressure and stress to their lives, which is one of many reasons why the court does not leave it up to them.
Here are some other reasons why judges do not allow children to determine custody:
- Children might opt for the parent with a nicer home or more money instead of choosing the more stable parent
- Children might choose the parent they feel needs them more even if that parent does not have the time to care for them
- Children might choose the parent that is more fun and provides better allowances and gifts
- Children might choose a parent because they were poisoned against their other parent
Children frequently base their decisions on their feelings and emotions and, unfortunately, those decisions are not always in their best interests, which is why a judge will not allow children to make this decision.
Schedule a Consultation with a Compassionate Child Custody Attorney!
Child custody disputes are difficult for everyone involved, especially children. If you are getting a divorce and vying for child custody, contact the family law team at the Law Offices of Elaine Stypula for the compassionate legal guidance you need to get through this experience. Do not go through this on your own.
Contact our legal team today at (248) 565-3800 to schedule a case review with our knowledgeable child custody attorney.