From what age can a child request to stay with the other divorced parent?

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From what age can a child request to stay with the other divorced parent?

Asked on January 6, 2012 under Family Law, Georgia

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Technically, a minor cannot make such a decision regardless of their age. Until they reach age 18 the court will decide which parent they should live with. However, once a child turns 12, their input is given greater weight by a court. Yet, just because a child expresses which parent they want to live does not mean that it will happen. The courts look at "the best interests of the child" in making a determination. Specifically, in making its decision the court will ask:

  • Is the child mature enough to understand the meaning of changing households and the repercussions that follow the change?
  • Can the child clearly state why they want to live with the other parent (ie are their reasons valid)?
  • Would living with the other parent drastically affect the child’s life – positively or negatively?
  • Can the non-custodial parent provide stability in the child’s life?
  • Is there an obvious benefit or long-term gain with living with the other parent?

The bottom line is that courts do not like to overturn child custody arrangements. Therefore, more than likely a custodial parent won't loose their rights unless a court finds them to be in some way an unfit parent. That having been said, the non-custodial parent may be awarded more visitation.


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