Only in rare cases would the clear preferences of a child this age be overridden by a judge. All other consultations are a $250 fee. Therefore it usually falls to the parents to decide who is going to be the ‘primary care-giver’ (meaning the person the child lives with). Most fourteen year olds are mature enough to make good witnesses. If you think that your child’s preference could be a factor in your custody case, contact our office today for a consultation and we will be more than happy to discuss with you the facts and circumstances unique to your case. This is really a loaded issue! t’s much less simple for children under the age of 17. Can You File A Pennsylvania Divorce Online? In many instances of child custody and changes in custody, parents want to know what effect, if any, their child or children’s preferences will have with the court or the judge. This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. The Lancaster Law Firm is a full service Law Firm with 2 offices in Central Arkansas. What Age Can a Child Decide Custody? Updated March 29, 2020. They take direction well (our firm preps EVERY witness in advance of a hearing or trial) and respond favorably to different stimuli in his or her home life. The preferences of a young child will probably not carry much weight, but the significance of an older child’s choice will vary. As with so many aspects of family law in England & Wales, how much weight is given to what a child says about his or her future will vary according to the circumstances of the particular case -there is no set rule. By Beverly Bird. Generally speaking, a judge will take the time to interview children between the ages of 9 and 17 to find out what their preferences are when it comes to living arrangements and child custody. From the age of 12 years, a child’s wishes are considered – just considered. A child’s desire in which parent to reside is one of many factors the Court will consider. The simple fact is that a child’s age has very little to do with it and Pennsylvania law does not recognize any particular age as allowing a child to automatically decide. Pittsburgh, PA 15219. A child need not be at this magic number, but generally it is a good number. These folks “hear” that if a child is 12 (or 13 or 14 or 15…), the child has the right to make the final decision as to with whom the child wishes to stay. 429 4th Ave. Suite 1501 A child over the age of 12 can express their preference, and their opinion should have significant weight in the court's decision. Many times, due the multiple factors that a court considers in determining the best interest of the child, decisions are very fact dependent and each case must be evaluated individually. Click here to read the full statement. The standard in custody cases is “the best interest of the child.” Generally, a parent will be awarded custody if it is in that child’s best interest. Accordingly, if you are wondering whether or not your 13-year-old will be permitted by the Judge to stay with you, I trust that you now understand that your child’s ability to express itself intelligently and maturely will carry most of the weight. On the other hand, a fourteen-year-old may say that a parent loves the child because the child is allowed to stay up late on school nights, feign illness to stay home from school, and does not care what grades the child receives. For starters, any child age 17 or older can choose the parent he/she prefers to live with. Others disagreed, saying that if it’s the child who has to live there,they should be allowed to choose. Such discussions help the Judge determine if a parent’s main intent is to be the child’s friend instead of the child’s parent. In such a discussion, the Judge will assess the child’s maturity and ability to understand the situation. The answer is “it depends.”. There are lots of articles on the internet about this, and a good number suggest that at a certain age e.g. CONTACT THE LANCASTER LAW FIRM TO SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION. There will come a time where a child is able to ‘vote with their feet’ so to speak and place themselves physically where they want to be. 10, 12 or 16, a child can make their own decision. A child’s preference can be most effective when both parents are equally “fit,” all living conditions for the child are relatively equal, and the child is fourteen (14) years of age or over. To which of those two children’s idea of good parenting will the Judge give the most weight? At What Age Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With? For some families the decision will be clear while for others it could be more complicated. I regret to say that your son has to be 16 before he can choose for himself with which parent he wishes to live. Ideally, both parents would understand and want what is best for their child. This is not the case. Perhaps we have to go back to the expectations of both spouses at the time of the wedding. In Pennsylvania, legal actions (lawsuits, if you will) are typically commenced by filing a document called a Complaint. All Rights Reserved. At the age of sixteen the child is legally allowed to chose what parent he or she wishes to live with. It is difficult to be both and being mainly the child’s friend is usually an easier path even if it is not the best decision for the child. And if you have been a good parent, you will have little to worry about. A child’s preference can be most effective when both parents are equally “fit,” all living conditions for the child are relatively equal, and the child is fourteen (14) years of age or over. Pennsylvania Divorce Because Spouse Won’t Work. This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. When both parents are on the same good-parenting page, a child is less likely to have a strong preference and the Court avidly supports the child spending as close to equal time with each parent as possible… and that should be the parents’ goal as well. It is no guarantee that your 12yo child will be able to choose where to live. However, the court may consider the entire circumstances in order to determine whether to fashion a court order that follows the child's wishes. It is easy to see that age will have nothing to do with the Judge’s decision, right? Under Irish law that is the age at which the adolescent can marry with his parent's consent. I have seen children as young as seven (7) make viable witnesses in custody and change of custody cases. What was the economic plan you had discussed? ... do not set a definitive age at which a child is old enough to voice her opinion regarding which parent she wants to live with. Parents who think they can fool a Judge are very badly mistaken.) Davis Divorce Law is open, processing current divorces and accepting new clients. If you’re in trouble, we can help. ***The above is only for information purposes and does not constitute legal advice. There are, of course, life circumstances where, day-to-day, one parent’s occupation will not allow as much time being spent with a child, but the Judge understands and considers that. The Family Law Act (1975) does not specify an age for when a child can choose where to live, however there are general understandings and practises. A nine-year-old may tell the Judge that a parent loves the child because that parent does what is best for the child even if it may make the child unhappy from time to time.