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Can your child choose which parent gets custody?

On Behalf of | May 24, 2024 | Family Law

You file for a divorce. When you tell your child that you are getting divorced, they are unhappy about it. They tell you that they are not going to live with you after the divorce, but they’re only going to live with your ex.

You know that child custody arrangements will have to be made during the divorce process. But can your child make this decision for you?

The child’s best interests

Your child’s preference may play a role, especially if they are a teenager. Often, courts will take older children’s desires into account, and that could influence the eventual custody determination.

That said, the court’s goal is to focus on the child’s best interests. Usually, courts will determine that it is best for children to spend at least some time with each parent, maintaining a relationship with both people. This may not be true if there is evidence of abuse, drug use or criminal activity. Courts still sometimes use custody in these types of situations, but there needs to be a clear reason for it.

If your child simply wants to live with your ex, the court may decide that it would still be better for them to spend time with both of you. The court can then ignore the child’s wishes and split custody between you and your ex. All involved are bound to follow this court order, even if it is not exactly what they would have preferred.

A complicated case

That said, these types of conflicts do indicate that your divorce case will likely be fairly complicated. It’s critical that you understand all of your legal options.