Compassionate And Accessible Legal Advocacy For Alabama

Can children decide which parent to live with?

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2024 | FAMILY LAW - Divorce

Children may have a preference when it comes to their custody arrangement after divorce. Even if legal custody is split equally, meaning that both parents have the same decision-making power and need to work together, physical custody or parenting time still has to be divided. The child could say that they would prefer to live with one parent over the other.

This sometimes worries parents who are concerned that they won’t be chosen. They want to maintain a relationship with their child, but they are concerned that the child would rather live with the other co-parent. Can the child make this decision during a divorce case?

The child’s age

One of the biggest factors to consider here is how old the child is. Young children likely wouldn’t even be asked what their preference was during a divorce case. They don’t get to make the decision, and the court isn’t going to consider it.

With older children, however, the court may consider their wishes. But that doesn’t mean that the court will automatically do as the child requests. They will consider a variety of other factors to determine what is in the child’s best interest.

Much of the time, courts do err on the side of sharing custody between both parents. They do not want to prevent the relationship between that parent and child from continuing to grow. So, even if the child says they want to live with the other person, they would need to prevent a very compelling reason for the court to go along with this request. Odds are that the court is just going to say that it is still in the child’s best interests to see both parents, regardless of what the child wants.

That being said, divorce cases can certainly get complex. Parents need to know exactly what steps to take.