Can a 14 year old decide who she wants to live with without having to go to court? How? 6 Answers as of July 15, 2015

My ex and I share joint custody of our 14 year old daughter. She lives with him during the week and attends high school in the county that they reside in. However, my ex and his current spouse are having marital difficulties. The police had to be called to their house last week and my daughter was present during the incident. His wife has cheated on him and he has evidence of her affair. She destroyed his computer and his office and even threatened to burn down the house with him and my daughter in it. My daughter does not feel safe there and wants to move in with me and change schools. My ex is listed as primary custodian in the divorce papers. I know that he is going to dispute everything and is going to want her to stay with him and not change schools. My question is what do I have to do in order for her to change schools and start living with me during the week? She stills wants to see her father, she just doesn't want to live there anymore. Do we have to go to court for the change? Do I need to hire an attorney? Thank you for any information.

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Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
There is a provision in the family code that enables the court to determine if they should weigh a child's desires on placement for custody. It's entirely up to the court whether or not they will determine if it's appropriate for the child to express their desires and ,if so ,in what forum. Since child custody placement has everything to do with the unique circumstances of your family system, it would be wise to meet with an experienced family law attorney in an office consultation to get more precise advice on how to proceed.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/15/2015
Richard B. Jacobson & Associates, LLC | Richard B. Jacobson
In a contested court matter, it's always a good idea to have a skilled lawyer to advise and represent you. And that seems to be the case here. Your lawyer will likely propose that you move to change the custody/placement arrangement based on the girl's best interest and because circumstances have changed.
Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
Replied: 7/14/2015
Law Offices of Helene Ellenbogen, P.S.H | Helene Ellenbogen
If there was domestic violence of the sort you describe, I would suggest you get a lawyer immediately and file an emergency Petition to get her moved to your house. The wife's infelicity is not the issue, her threats of violence and actual violence are. This is a major change of circumstance (assuming the wife is still in the house) which would allow for a modification. Your daughter does not get to make the decision of where to live at any time.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 7/14/2015
Edwin Fahlen Attorney at Law
Edwin Fahlen Attorney at Law | Edwin Fahlen
No, a 14-year old may not decide where she wants to live without going to court when there are existing Orders. However, we can help you and your daughter live together based on the facts you provided. Moreover, we may be able to have your daughter living with you starting within 2-days from now. When you are dealing with children in court, competent legal representation should always be sought, as the subject matter of the litigation is so very important. One mistake here could cause the biggest adverse consequence of your life! Not to mention if you believe your ex husbands wife threats are real you should be in my office today.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/14/2015
Petit & Dommershausen SC
Petit & Dommershausen SC | Tajara Dommershausen
You need to file a motion to modify placement. A court will need to decide who should get to pick the school and whether placement should change.
Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
Replied: 7/14/2015
    Diane l. Berger | Diane L. Berger
    Ordinarily a child does not have the decision making authority where she wants to live, though a court will listen to what she has to say and determine whether her reasoning is sound. The facts you set forth in your question would be enough, in my opinion, to get a change of primary possession. For that to occur, either your former husband would have to agree or you would have to file an application with the court for a change in custody and primary possession.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 7/14/2015
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