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

UPDATED: Mar 24, 2009

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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


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

Answered 13 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.

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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