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Can your child decide where to live during a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2022 | Family Law |

People often think that older children can choose which parent to live with after a divorce. In many cases, they assume this is true for children starting around the age of 12 to 14. They know that younger children are simply going to be assigned a custody schedule, but they assume that young teens are going to be able to pick where they live.

However, this is something of a myth. Where the child lives always comes down to the court order. The child cannot necessarily choose it on their own. So why do people believe this?

The child may get a say

This myth likely comes from the fact that older children are sometimes given a chance to speak in court. They can present their position to the court, which will then take it into account along with everything else.

But, at the end of the day, the court’s job is to look out for the child’s best interests. This may mean going along with what the child requested, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that. As such, it’s not true that children can simply pick where they live.

For example, a child may say that they only want to live with one parent, but the court May believe that they’ve simply been manipulated to say that by that parent. Studies have found that children develop better when they are involved with both parents, so the courts are going to err on the side of shared custody.

However, they do have some discretion. Say that you have a high school senior, and your ex is going to be moving far enough that they would have to move out of the school district. Your child may realistically want to live with you for the rest of the year just so they can stay in the same school and graduate with their friends. In a situation like this, the court may give you custody and simply try to find a way for your ex to see the child through visitation.

Understanding your rights

As you can see, it’s very important to understand all of the rights that you do have and not to buy into any of these myths during a divorce.