How old does a child have to be to pick the parent he wants in custody case? 41 Answers as of July 08, 2013

When can a child choose which parent to go with?

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Law Office of Joan M. Canavan | Joan Canavan
There is no "magic" age that the Court uses to determine when a child is old enough to pick the parent he/she wants to live with in a custody case. After age 12, the Court is more likely to take into consideration the choice of your child concerning which parent he/she would prefer to live with. Also, the older your child gets, the more weight the Court will put on the choice of the child as to which parent he/she wants to live with.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 1/3/2012
Fox Law Firm LLC
Fox Law Firm LLC | Tina Fox
A child does not get to "pick" who he/she wants to reside with, he may give his testimony to the court and the court weighs the testimony of a 14 yr old (and older) heavier than a younger child. However, the court will take all testimonies into consideration and determine what is in the best interest of the child when determining custody.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 12/30/2011
Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
Children cannot choose their custodial parent, but if a child is of such age and maturity as to be able to express a preference and the reasons for that preference, those things can be brought to the Court's attention bya number of means. If the child isof age 14 or older, a Court would more than likely consider that child's preference, but is not bound by the child's preference.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/29/2011
Lawsmith, The Law Office of J. Scott Smith
Lawsmith, The Law Office of J. Scott Smith | J. Scott Smith
There is no magic age or number. A Judge can and usually will listen to an older child's wishes but doesn't have to give any consideration at all to the child's opinion. As long as the child is a minor, the court's job is to rule for whatever the Judge feels is in that child's best interests.
Answer Applies to: North Carolina
Replied: 12/28/2011
Vargas Law Office LLC | Ronnie Ismael Vargas
There is no age requirement pr age standard as to when a child can pick a parent. A Child's preference is not the sole factor in determining where a child lives.
Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
Replied: 12/28/2011
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC | Patrick Meriwether
    In Georgia, a child can sign an election at 14 to live with one parent over another on a primary basis. A court usually will follow that election unless it finds that following that election would not be in the child's best interest. A child between the age of 12 and 14 can have significant influence on the Court's decision making process.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/28/2011
    Donaldson Stewart, PC
    Donaldson Stewart, PC | Monica H. Donaldson Stewart
    In Arizona, a minor child does not get to "choose" the parent with whom to reside; however, the court must consider a list of statutory factors in determining the child's best interests when making custody determinations, and one of the factors is "the wishes of the child." Certainly, older children are generally better able to articulate a reason for a preference of one parent over another, and older children are in a better position to appreciate the difference between what they "want" vs. what is in their "best interests."
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Ezim Law Firm | Dean Esposito
    There is no set age when a child may testify at a custody trial. I have seen children around 12 years old, give or take a year, testify after the judge has questioned the child and determined whether that the child is mature enough to testify. The child's choice is but only one factor the judge will consider in rendering a decision regarding custody. The reasoning for the child's decision is what is most important.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    The only certain answer is when the child is considered an adult by being over the age of 18. With that being said, the older the child is, more weight is given to their reasonable requests but it is not the deciding factor.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    H. Scott Basham, Attorney at Law, P.C. | H. Scott Basham
    If a child is 11 years old, he or she is allowed to indicate to the judge which parent he or she prefers to stay with. However, the judge does not have to give any particular deference to the child's wishes. When a child reaches 14 years of age, he or she can pick which parent he or she wants to live with. The judge can only overrule the child's wishes upon a strong showing that the child's best interests would not be served thereby.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    Hello, There is no simple easy answer to this question. Usually, by the time you are 14-15 the Court will listen to you as to which parent you wish to live with. However, it is not that simple either because many times different things will occur that may lead the court to either agree or disagree without decision, such as alleged coercion or other effort exerted by one parent or the other to get you to choose them. There are so many potential reasons that it is impossible to recount them all here.The young person's choice is not determinative, but does count towards the ultimate decision to be made. At 16, the young person can basically make up their mind and the Court will abide by their decision.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    There is no specific rule. The law states that at the age of 14 the court must consider a minors wishes but must take each case on a case by case basis. Thus, this can depend on the age of the child and the child maturity. However, the court is not bound by the minor's wishes.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Law Office of Jane E. Ginsburg
    Law Office of Jane E. Ginsburg | Jane Ginsburg
    There is no hard and fast age at which the child chooses. The older the child is, the more weight the court will give to his/her preference. And teenagers often "vote with their feet", i.e. if they don't want to go to a parent's home, they won't. Parents need to be very careful that they don't put a child in the position of having to "choose" between them.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    In Colorado, not until the child is legally an adult at age 18 when he/she is free to decide anything about where he/she lives. Until then, the child's preferences will be considered, but will not control anything. When the child lives must be decided based on the best interests of the child as that is decided either by mutual agreement of both parents or by a judge.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Goldberg Jones
    Goldberg Jones | Zephyr Hill
    The child cannot pick, but can usually have a significant influence on the decision around the age of 11. Things are changing in this area of law as the year changes to 2012 and you will want to consult an attorney before making any decisions in your case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    At the age of 14 a child can select their custodial parent and this is a presumption that the judge will usually follow unless the child's choice is for some reason not in their best interest.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    He Can't. When a court is reduced to choosing sole parenting, then the judge will make a determination as to whom the child will live with as the residential and custodial parent. The child may have a conversation with the judge *in camera* (alone in chambers), and the child may express a preference. The older the child the more important the preference.in determining. the living location of the child.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    More factors are involved in determining custody than just the child's preference.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/2/2013
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    Under Minnesota law, a child never gets to determine where they will reside. After custody has been determined, any change in custody would require a showing that the child is endangered physically, emotionally or developmentally in the current custodial situation and that the benefit of the change in custody outweighs any harm. Children in their late teens may deemed endangered if they have strong feelings about living with one parent or another. The desires of younger children does not have such an impact.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Shamberg Wolf Mc Dermott Depue | Alfred Corey
    Depending on the child's age, the Judge in your case may want to hear from him or her, possibly in a private setting. Although the child's preference is not the deciding factor, the Judge will take this along with the other facts involved in your case to make a decision. I would advise you to speak to an attorney about your case as soon as possible.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Law Office of William C. Wood, LLC | William C. Wood
    At 16, the child may petition the court regarding custody and/or visitation and the court would be required to consider the child's wishes.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Gonzalez Law Associates P.C.
    Gonzalez Law Associates P.C. | Carlos Gonzalez
    Generally, the court gives the child great say when they are fourteen years of age to make such decisions. Before fourteen their opinion will not hold the same amount of weight.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc.
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc. | Mark Brown
    The child has the power to decide only when he/she becomes a legal adult.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Peyton and Associates | Barbara Peyton
    Generally the court will consider the preference of a child by the time he or she is 12 years old. However, the court will also carefully consider why the child has such a preference. The court will look to see if the child is being treated to "Disneyland" when with one parent or the other. The court will look to see if the child is being alienated against a parent by the other parent.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
    In the state of Florida, a child cannot choose where they want to live until they turn 18 years of age.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Walnut Creek Family Law Center, Inc. | Merritt L. Weisinger
    There is no specific age nor can the child "pick the parent". He or she can express a preference. However, remember that the policy of the law is for children to have two parents and for frequent and continuing contact with each. There are three ways a child can be heard in addition to speaking with his or her parents direcdtly. First, if there is a pending court hearing involving custody or time share, the parent should ask the mediator to speak with the child. Mediation is required by state law and many mediators, time permitting, will do so. Second, you can ask the court to have an attorney appointed for the child. Minor's Counsel will express the child's wishes to the court. However someone has to pay for such counsel and circumstances permitting, the court will have each side contribute to the cost, subject to reallocation. Third, there is a new law coming into effect January 1st which allows a child of 12 years or older to address the court. I'm not sure of the specifics yet but Jan. 1st is next week.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Doug Jeschke, Attorney at Law | Doug Jeschke
    A child should never have the authority and responsibility to "pick" which parent they live with. This decision needs to be made by responsible, caring parents. Parents should, of course, take into consideration the desires and needs of the child at the given time. In Indiana, if a court needs to decide which parent will have primary physical custody, a child of around 12 years old or older would be able to express his or her opinion to the judge in the proceeding of a custody case. This age might be younger in appropriate situations. There is no definite age, the judge has final say about having a child testify.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    ROWE LAW FIRM
    ROWE LAW FIRM | Jeffrey S. Wittenbrink
    In Louisiana there is no magic age at which the child may choose the parent with whom he or she wants to be primarily domiciled. This prevents the parents from playing the child back and forth-and vice versa, prevents the child from gaining too much control in the divorce. Neither of those two situations is healthy for children, and the law recognizes that fact. On the other hand, the child's reasonable preference, if he or she is of competent age to state his or her preference, is a factor that the courts will consider along with other factors in deciding custody.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    When they become an adult at age 18 in Washington.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Petit & Dommershausen SC
    Petit & Dommershausen SC | Tajara Dommershausen
    That would be 18.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 5/30/2013
    Bowen Law, LLC | Justin Bowen
    There is never (rarely) a time when a child "chooses" which parent to live with in Indiana. At age 14, the court will hear what the child's wishes are. But if the parents cannot agree on where the child should live, the court will decide - not the child. Children do not always know what is in their best interest, and so while the court may choose to take their opinion and feeling into consideration, it does not carry the day. I hope this helps.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    In Texas, a child 12 years of age or older may talk with the Judge and express his/her desires. The child's desires is one thing the Judge will look at, and it is in fact a big item, but it is not the final decision.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Odin, Feldman & Pittleman, P.C.
    Odin, Feldman & Pittleman, P.C. | Richard A. Gray
    A minor child does not get to choose in Virginia. It's the parents and the court's responsibility to assess what is in the child's best interests; otherwise you'd simply be empowering a child to make the adult's decisions and look who you've just put in charge then! A child of mature age, not chronological age, generally viewed as 14 and older, can certainly express to the court his or her preference, but that's all it is - a preference.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    Child never pick who they want to live with. Only adults decide who they live with. However, the courts will consider the wishes of the child depending upon their age and level of maturity. If their reasons for wanting to live with one parent are reasonable, then the court will give it greater weight than if the reason is not reasonable.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    There is no specific age threshold in California. Rather, it is a case by case determination based on a child's age and maturity. I.e., if the child is of sufficient age and maturity, then that child's custody preferences may be considered as part of the custody determination.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/27/2011
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