My son does not want to live with his father anymore, he wants to live with me (his mother)

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My son does not want to live with his father anymore, he wants to live with me (his mother)

How old does my son have to be to have a say concerning which parent he lives with?

Asked on March 24, 2009 under Family Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

R.C., Member, Connecticut Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

In Pennsylvania, the court takes the wishes of a child over the age of 12 into consideration and the older the child, the more value the opinion has. But courts do not have to follow a child’s desires, and in changing custody arrangements, this is even more true.  It is a judge’s obligation to decide where a child will live, and while the judge may take the child’s wish into account, it will not be the deciding factor. 

In a change of custody, a lot more than the child’s wishes are important.  Why does the child want to move?  Are there discipline issues?  Are there abuse issues?  Are there step-parent issues?  Has the non-custodial parent been working to influence the child?  Was it solely the child’s idea, or did the non-custodial adult raise the subject with the child?  Can this be worked out between the two of you—for example, by a temporary change of household without custody change, fully and voluntarily agreed to by both parents?

Use caution when raising the child’s request to move from one parent to another in court. Judges sometimes are very irritated by a parent involving their child in a custody fight, and your request may backfire on you.

And, it's best that you consult an attorney before you do anything.


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