Can a Child Choose Which Parent They Want to Live With?
One question parents frequently ask me is, “Can my child make the decision regarding the parent with whom he or she wants to live?” The short answer is, “No. Children cannot make custody determinations because they are children.” However, once they approach adolescence—for example, the age of 14 or higher—the judge is likely to at least weigh what the child wants as he or she is making that custody determination. The judge will always work toward a solution that is in the best interest of the child.
Sometimes a child wants to live with one parent over the other because that parent gives the child whatever he or she wants. If that is something that concerns the judge, the judge is unlikely to simply allow the child to live with that parent. Again, that decision is made with total regard for the best interest of the child, and the decision considers the age and maturity level of the child. The judge will think, “Is this child articulating well and acting intelligently in saying what he or she wants, or is there some other reason in play?”