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

UPDATED: Jan 6, 2012

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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


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

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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