When Can My Children Decide Which Parent To Live With?

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I share 50/50 custody of my children, though my daughter has expressed an interest in staying with me the majority of the time due to a strained relationship with her mother.

Is there are certain age when my children decide for themselves which parent they want to live with?

children decide
Utah divorce attorney Christy Robison


There is generally an age at which the court will “consider” a child’s preference in making a custody determination.

In Utah, this age was just reduced from 16 to 14. You would want to check with a local attorney to determine the specific requirements for where you live; however, the real issue would be how to get that information before the judge.

Occasionally, the judge will meet with the child in his chambers, but usually you need a custody evaluator or therapist to provide that information to the court.

Depending on the requirements of your decree, you would likely do this through a custody modification. The court does like to keep siblings together on the same schedule, but in order to modify an existing decree, you need a substantial and material change in circumstances that was not anticipated at the time of the divorce.

Your oldest child’s desire and the strain in the relationship with the mother may be enough to meet that requirement; however, you would also need to meet that for your youngest child.

If your ex-wife is really not interested in having the children 50 percent of the time, it may be that she will agree to adjust the schedule at mediation and you will not require any litigation. I would definitely follow up with an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction to review your options.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than tips on your situation, so please consult a domestic litigation attorney in your area to obtain specific advice as to the laws in your state and how they impact your potential case.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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