How old does a child have to be before they can decide to live with a parent after a divorce?

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Question:

My wife and I have been divorced for a few years now and we have joint physical and legal custody of our 11-year old daughter.  She has recently told me that she wants to live with her mother full-time.  When is a child enough to choose which parent they want to live with?

Answer:

The decisions regarding child custody are matters for the parents to decide.  When they are unable to reach a decision between themselves, they may seek guidance from a counselor or mediator.  Sometimes they will ask for input from the children on who they want to live with.  The wishes of a child can be an important factor in making these difficult decisions. 

Often the age of twelve is considered a turning point when the opinion of a child may change as they begin puberty.  A girl may feel more comfortable living with her mother full time as she begins to mature.  There are many factors to take into consideration, such as separating siblings and the effect it may have on the family.  Before making any decisions, both parents should sit down with the child to discuss the situation in detail. 

If you are concerned about the legal implications of altering your custody agreement, you should consult a family law attorney who can advise you.

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This site does not provide legal advice and users of this site should not interpret any of the information presented here as legal advice. The information provided merely conveys general information related to commonly asked legal questions. We are not a law firm and the employees responding to questions are not acting as your legal attorney. You should ultimately consult with a lawyer for your case.

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