There is a misconception that once a child reaches a certain age usually 12, 13, 14 that he or she gets to choose which parent to live with.
In my experience that's not the case. The ages of the child and the wishes of the child is just one factor that the court has to look at. The court has to look at all of the best interest factors.
So when thinking about what the child wants you need to ask yourself:
- Can the child reason?
- If so, does the child have a preference about which parent they want to live with?
- If so, what are the child's reasons?
If a child is telling you that they want to live with you, how is that coming about?
- Are you probing the child or is the child just bringing this up spontaneously?
- Has the child expressed this wish to anyone else besides you?
You may be wondering how a court is going to know what your child wants? Is the court going to make my child get on the stand and testify? My answer is probably not. What I have seen is:
- Judges interviewing & talking to the child in chambers
- Letters that a child wrote and gave to the parent
What I see most frequently is a child being interviewed by a neutral third party usually some sort of mental health professional that is appointed by the court