I need to know what rights my 16 year old daughter has, if she wants to live with me instead of her mother?

My ex and I both live in the same town, but I work out of town during the week. I live at my parent’s house when I am working. We have joint custody with the ex as primary custody. My 16 year old daughter is extremely unhappy at her mother’s house and is acting out in a number of ways. She wants to come with me and go to school in the town where I stay during the week, but her mother will not allow it. What are my options?

Asked on September 13, 2011 under Family Law, North Carolina


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Typically, a minor child cannot choose which parent they want to live with.  It will be a matter for the court to decide. it will consider many factors: home environment, income and education of the parents, the child's relationship with each parent, reason for wanting the change, etc. 

However, while a child cannot outright choose where they want to live, if they over the age of 12, a child's preference is given consideration and is one of the factors that the court will take into account in making its determination (the older the child, the more weight it is given).

That all having been said, the fact that you travel so extensively will proabaly work against you here. The fact is that it's probably time for you to consult directly with a divorce attorney as to your options.

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