What I have read from the lawyers several times on this forum is that there is no such age but the older the child, the more the court will/may take their wishes into consideration. For some reason the age of 14 has floated around for a while but I don’t think there is any legal standard for that.
I don’t know about this state, but the one where I grew up, my father filed a petition with the court to modify custody. I went and testified in court at the age of 12 (they had to wait until that age specifically for some reason). The court took my testimony into consideration and made adjustments.
The only age where a child can decide where they live is 18.
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Helena M. Nevicosi
Attorney with Rosen Law Firm
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Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
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Charlotte, NC 28262
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While keeping what Helena said in mind, if the child does desire to live with one parent and the parents can agree to allow this to happen then the filing of modification does not have to be fought in court. It should be able to be done with little issues.
If the parents are not in agreement and one files for modifications, that is when the court will want to hear the reasons behind. The reasons would have to be in the best interest of the child and normally a child is not able to make that decision for themselves…
My oldest stepson, now 13 and very mature for his age, had decided previously that he wanted to stay with us. His mother works 3rd shift and he said that he had too much on his plate already to have to worry about doing her job too (Getting them both ready for school, fixing food for his brother and making sure that he bathed and brushed his teeth)He said that she was either sleeping or working…He also said that if he stayed with us then when he did visit with her it would mean more to them both. All very valid reasons and it went alright for about a month. At that point his mother started making comments to him about losing the house since the child support would be lowered…comments about having to quit her job because there were no 1st shifts available for her to change to…in general making him feel bad and guilty for choosing to live with us. He “changed his mind” and things have gone back to the way they were before. He still struggles and is still trying to bring himself to terms that if he does decide this, he will have to stick to it. We have told him that we would gladly stand behind him, support his decision but we do not want to force him into anything.
The other posters are correct in that the older the child, the more their wishes are taken into consideration. Even the courts know it’s difficult to force a teenager to do anything…
My oldest son is 12 on Monday. He does wnat to continue to live with me. I divorced his father in June 2000. I have sole cutody with his father having “liberal visitation that has to be agreed on prior to the visit.” He sees our son every other Christmas and 2 months in the summer. He calls 1-2 times a month. (Louisiana Court Order) When he first seperated in Oct 99 I offered to pay him child support and my BAH the military gave me and set-up an apartment for them while I was in Korea on an unaccompied tour. I also offered to supply him with all the household furniture/items for the year I would be gone. He said no… claiming he worked too much (he was combat arms in the military) to take care of our son. So trying to be fair I split the year between our parents so he would know both sides of the family.
My ex makes comments that he wants custody of our son. Our son wants to stay with me and he has asked if he has to go spend the summer with him. I told him we will discuss that closer to the date in hopes he changes his mind about seeing his date. (His dad is a federal prison guard that is either working, sleeping, playing video games or at fishing tournaments… without our son… while he is visiting there in the summer. He also does not know our son very well or understand him. He spends the summer trying to “change” him rather than allowing him to be the wonderful young man he is. This results in rebellion/lies/distrust/anger and other issues to arise during the visit.)
He believes there is this all “magical” age that a child can decide. He also thinks our son wants to live with him.
Also, if there is no age, does that mean the judge won’t consider what our son wants if my ex does pursue this?
If your ex does pursue modifying custody it will be up to him to show the court why the arrangement that you currently have and have had since 99 is no longer in the child’s best interest. After this long it is unlikely that the courts would change the custody, though he may be able to get more visitations on the courts order…
If your son were in trouble at school or with the law, had bad grades or had other behavioral issues and the current custody arrangement fueled that, the courts would possibly look more closely at changing it. Since that is not the case, the child’s well-being and behavior are typical and even thriving, it’s unlikely that it would be changed.
I would suggest that you don’t take the ex’s comments about custody too serious unless you get served with papers. Until then, do the best you can with raising a teenager and keep documentation of the issues that occure during his visitation. It never hurts to be prepared…
People always claim that there is this “magical age” that a child has the right to decide where they want to live.
Is there an age, that when a parent wants to change the custodial agreement, that the court will take into consideration what the child wants? Or if the child wants to move with the other parent and the other parent petitions for the modification that the court will do it solely because the child wants it?
My gut tells me no, because of the whole well-being issue and the ability and maturity to make decisions about their well-being - but I was looking for a clearer answer rather than gut-instinct.