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Can a child choose which parent to live with after a divorce?

On Behalf of | Aug 31, 2023 | Child Custody

Divorcing parents will often get into disagreements about where a child should live after the divorce takes place. They may both say that they want the child to live with them all of the time. They do not want to share parenting time. 

But the reality is that courts generally prefer to use a division of time between both parents. That division may not be perfectly equal, but the courts want the child to stay involved with each parent. Part of this process may include asking the child what they would prefer and where they would like to live.

If the court does this, should parents be concerned that the child would choose to live with the other person?

It is just one factor

It is possible for children to express their opinions and desires to the court, and the child certainly may say that they would rather live with one parent over the other.

But this does not mean that the court has to go along with what the child has asked or suggested. Usually, the court looks at a lot of different factors, such as potential evidence of abuse, financial situations for each parent, where the child goes to school, who is the primary caregiver, how old the child is, if the parents have any physical or cognitive limitations if the child has any special needs and much more.

When making a decision, the court is going to weigh all of these factors. The child’s expressed desires are one factor that will fit into this equation – if the child is old enough – but that doesn’t mean the court will grant them what they asked. Again, without a very clear reason to do so, courts tend to focus on sharing parenting time, rather than assigning it to only one parent or the other.

The divorce process can become very complicated. If you’re going through a divorce, make sure you know your legal rights as a parent.