Child requests change of custody

My daughter is 11 years old. Her father has physical custody. She has told me about many situations which occur to her at her father’s home where I feel she is being mentally and/or emotionally abused. My daughter’s father and I were never married. I understand that a child often manipulates parent’s behavior when there is a situation where the child lives in 2 households. Some of the events she tells are transparent attempts relating to manipulation. But other events she relates are too serious to be manipulation. The mental and emotional toll on my daughter has become significant enough for her to dread staying with her father. She is a very mature 11 year-old who will turn 12 in December.
Her father and I have had a hostile relationship even before she was born. He is very controlling. I can often get him to comply with my request by using reverse psychology. If I say it, he refuses to do it, even if it is in her best interest (not my idea of her best interest, but in anyone’s idea of best interest). She states she is very unhappy. She has friends she contacts regularly. She was moved by her father to a new school this year and her grades are better, but she is having difficulty making friends.
When she was 9, she stated she ‘wanted to kill herself’ while at school. The principal called me THAT NIGHT to inform me about the incident. I spoke with my daughter’s father asking him to arrange for immediate psychological counseling. He refused, stated she just said that phrase to get attention. I took my daughter to her pediatrician the next day and the doctor ordered immediate counseling. Her father refused to comply. I took him to court for the right to have my daughter seen by a psychologist and lost!! If a 24 year-old made that statement, I believe they should receive counseling. Why should a 9 year-old be denied counseling?
She tells me she wants to come live with me. I make her do chores and her homework, etc. Life with me is not all roses and kisses. But I do not abuse her mentally or
emotionally. I am an MD and I recognize the signs of mental and emotional abuse.
Her father will absolutely refuse this change of residence. I don’t even care if he retains official custody . I just want her out of his house. Is there a way I can get her away from him and live at my house? Of course he can see her at any time if she agrees. But I don’t think she will agree. She is very unhappy…others can see it, as well as I.

Assuming you have a custody court order, you will need to file a motion to modify the child custody order. Child custody can be modified only where there is a substantial change of circumstances affecting the wellbeing of the child. Based on the information you have provided, it’s possible you have a strong argument that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred.

Depending on the judge, the judge may choose to hear directly from your child regarding her wishes as to which parent she wants to live with. Even though it is not your daughter’s decision since she is a minor, oftentimes judges will consider a child’s opinion, especially from older “children” and teenagers.