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Can your child choose which parent has physical custody?

On Behalf of | May 25, 2024 | Family Law |

Two main types of custody will be addressed during a divorce. Legal custody refers to making key decisions like where a child will go to school or what healthcare they should receive. Physical custody refers to where the child is going to live and which parent will be with them at the time.

When dividing physical custody, parents are sometimes concerned that the child would choose to live with their ex. They may be concerned that this will limit their access to that child in the future. They still want to maintain the relationship, and they would prefer to share custody and take turns. 

If you’re in this situation, can your child simply choose to live with your ex and not with you?

The child’s preference may play a role

Some children may have a preference regarding where they live, and courts may consider this, depending on the circumstances. Often, the child’s age plays a major role. The court may listen more intently to what a teenager wants than to a child who is under 12.

Even if your child tells the court that they would prefer to live with your ex, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the court will agree to it. The goal for the court is still to focus on all of the child’s best interests, considering things like parental roles, living situations, mental and physical health, cultural considerations and much more.

Additionally, modern courts also tend to prefer shared custody. They generally only hand out sole custody when there is a very compelling reason to do so, such as evidence of abuse within the home. But they are not necessarily just going to grant sole custody because your child asked for it.

Your legal options

Preserving your relationship with your child is very important during a divorce. Be sure you know about all of your legal options at this time.