When can a child decide which parent to live with?

Latest post 07-15-2011 11:28 PM by samanthav28. 30 replies.
  • 02-19-2009 12:02 AM

    When can a child decide which parent to live with?

    State: Massachusetts
    Child: age 14 turning 15
    Custody: joined physical and legal

    Question: Can the child decide now whom she wants to live with? Can the child decide which school she wants to attend? Can the child decide to go out of the country to attend an oversea American/international school at one parent's home country?

  • 02-19-2009 12:50 AM In reply to

    re: When can a child decide which parent to live with?

    Like most family law, it varies by state. However, as a general rule, the older the child, the more input he/she is given and the greater weight it is assigned by the court. Also as a general rule, much research today has found that the same sex parent is the most important of the two and this could factor into your inquiry.

    I know nothing about Mass law, so I can't comment there. In Va. for example, there is no magic age. However, courts here are very receptive to hearing from the children after about age 11 or 12. Some judges will not permit children to testify....Some will take children into chambers for a private consultation. Some will permit the children to testify via closed circuit. Local counsel will be familiar with what the SOP are of your local court.

    If a GAL is appointed to the case, then he/she will interview the child independently as well as visit his/her school....And both homes. I suspect a GAL would give the child's input great weight, especially given his age.
  • 02-19-2009 6:33 AM In reply to

    re: When can a child decide which parent to live with?

    If neither of the parents agree to the school or going out of the country? No. If one of the parents supports the school issue and files for permission for the child to attend such a school, it would be the court's decision, not the child's as to whether going to school out of the country is in the child's best interest. If you are saying the other parent lives out of the country where this school is located, then the parent would need to file for change in custody and permission to relocate the child.
  • 02-19-2009 10:57 AM In reply to

    • CJ
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    re: When can a child decide which parent to live with?

    "Generally" a child does not have much say in who they get to live with. However, it would be up to a judge to choose or not to choose to listen to the child's desires.

    If transfering to a new school would greatly impact/reduce the physical relationship/contact between child and parent, and BOTH parents are not wanting this change then it would be a hard argument to allow the change in custody and relocation.
  • 02-19-2009 12:36 PM In reply to

    re: When can a child decide which parent to live with?

    "Generally a child does not have much say in who they get to live with. However, it would be up to a judge to choose or not to choose to listen to the child's desires. "
    ________________________________________

    With all due respect, I strongly disagree....Especially a child about to turn 15. His input would be given great weight in most courts.

    This issue is all about the age of the child and as a general rule, the older the child, the greater the weight of his intentions.


  • 02-19-2009 12:57 PM In reply to

    re: When can a child decide which parent to live with?

    I heard that a child aged 13 and above can decide whom to live with in MA. In my situation here the child wants to spend her remaining 3 high school years in daddy's home country (with lots of relatives). She wants to learn mandarin there, and keeps up her American curriculum, and eventually applying for colleges back in the US. It is not cheap for American school in other country, but this is the only option b/c she can't speak fluent Mandarin despite 10 years of Sunday Chinese school in the US. Her elder brother stayed with mom all the time and failed badly in high school. I am very concerned and supports her decision. She called mom for the idea (her own idea) and got yelled at and hangup phone. She wants me to go to court to ask permission from the judge. Now, if I would to do that, what are the necessary steps and what is the odd? She is turning 15 in April and worry that there will not be enough time to get into her favorite school in Fall this year... Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  • 02-19-2009 1:51 PM In reply to

    18

    ,
  • 02-19-2009 1:52 PM In reply to

    Disagree [)*(] You heard wrong

    She maybe able to express her preference to a judge but the JUDGE decides, not the child.
  • 02-19-2009 2:04 PM In reply to

    re: When can a child decide which parent to live with?

    Courts don't like to remove kids from their parents, especially so far away. Some won't ok a 4 hour drive away.

    If her only reason is to learn Mandarin, the courts will assume it's just as possible to learn it here. If she's not doing well in school, why would a change in country make a difference?

    You would have to convince the court she can't learn here to an extent she should be separated from her mother; that's not likely.
  • 02-19-2009 3:10 PM In reply to

    re: When can a child decide which parent to live with?

    There doesn't seem to be an age ( in Massach) where a child can decide; only one of many factors. No one here can give you the "odds"- one could argue it would be a very positive experience for the child and in the child's best interest to do so. You need to consult local counsel as to the appropriate procedure.
  • 02-19-2009 5:56 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    re: Added view

    Laymans take:

    1. The child probably doesn't have standing to raise her views independently in court--so don't provide her a platform.

    2. Given that some parents find it all but impossible to get kids back once they get outside US jurisdiction , I'd exercise extreme caution about allowing exit from US and I'd certainly keep passport outside of grasp of adventuresome 15 year old.

    3. The order counts as written ---don't give folks a window to revisit it!



  • 02-19-2009 8:38 PM In reply to

    re: When can a child decide which parent to live with?

    Hello,
    I found your comments to be most encouraging and helpful, while some others don't seem to consider the interests of the child at all. If one parent and the child (2) agree on a plan, I don't think the judge should give a favor ruling to the the opposing parent (1) if both parents are equal? I already had a GAL who supported me, but the judge still ruled against me in the past (as usual as a dead-beat father in the US); therefore, I will try not to bother a GAL this time. Instead, I would prefer to have the judge hear directly from the child, who is willing to testify. Can you help and tell me the basic procedures in filing the petition and have the child's opinion heard by the judge directly? I know that the mom and her attorney will do all they can to avoid the child for telling the judge what she wants, but we are only considering the best interests of the child here. Please pray for my child.
  • 02-19-2009 9:18 PM In reply to

    re: When can a child decide which parent to live with?

    Not sure who you're directing your question to, but I'll comment. Please ignore if appropriate.

    It's all up to the Judge's discretion re: children in court. You will need to meet with local counsel who can probably tell you what a particular Judge's / courts procedures are. It can be all over the board. Some Judges won't let kids testify period. Others will via closed circuit. Some will take a child into chambers for private consultation. Some will allow anything.

    Sometimes a good approach is having a counselor speak on the child's behalf and also recommend their professional views. Counselors will often carry more weight in court than a GAL.

    Best of luck with this.

  • 02-20-2009 8:23 AM In reply to

    Feedback [*=*] How do you intend to...

    foster and maintain a relationship between the child and her mother over those three years abroad? You realize, of course, that the burden would likely be upon you to provide transportation both ways, yes? Can you afford that expense, on top of the tuition (yes, you are likely to be 100% responsible for that, too)? It is also not impossible that you will be required to post a (significant) bond should the child not visit her mother as ordered.

    Honestly? I cannot fault Mom for fighting this plan, and it would surprise me greatly if a court agreed to allow the child to do this. If you are concerned with her schooling (and her brother's poor performance may or may not be relevant - you would have to prove that it was Mom's actions and behavior that caused his failure), why not simply look at a change in custody, a change in school, or maybe... get further involved in her schooling yourself?

    While I'm a huge fan of gaining an "international experience", three years is pushing that envelope, IMO.
  • 02-20-2009 12:33 PM In reply to

    NOT in the best interest of the child

    "we are only considering the best interests of the child here."

    In what respect? It is NOT in the best interests of a child to be separated from her mother for 3 years, no matter how great you think the educational system is elsewhere. Family is so much more important.

    The child needs to APPLY herself; it's not the system's fault she's not doing well. Get her a tutor if that's such a concern.

    There's no way a judge is going to let a teenager move across the globe for 3 years if her mother objects.
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