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Do children choose which parent to live with?

As someone going through a divorce with children involved, you know what you think is best for their futures. Maybe you know that 50/50 custody will work, or you believe it's in your children's best interest to live with you or your spouse due to the school district or other benefits. One important question that many people ask is if a child actually has the right to choose who to live with, and if so, can they override that right?

Surprisingly, minors do not have the right to choose. Minors are not given the legal right to decide on their own which parent they want to live with. Of course, the older they become, the more likely it is that their opinions will be weighed more heavily in court.

Your child's preference isn't the be-all-end-all, though. A judge can still make a decision in opposition of that preference, and you can still present evidence as to why your child's preference might not be the best idea.

A child's preference can change, which is why they aren't given the right to decide on their own. For example, if your spouse promises to take your child on vacation, that could change your child's opinion of who to live with. If you are stricter, a child might want to live somewhere with fewer rules, even though that could be to their detriment. Perhaps your child wants to live at one house over the other simply because it has better toys or friends live nearby. There are a variety of reasons, but the facts must outweigh them for the safety of the child.

Source: Good Therapy, "Can My Child Choose Which Parent to Live With?," Shendl Tuchman, Psy.D., accessed Sep. 16, 2016

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