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Can your child choose where they live post-divorce?

On Behalf of | Jul 5, 2023 | Family Law

When parents get divorced, they have to decide on a custody and parenting time setup for their children. Generally, they will determine how they want to share custody and parenting time, as the child will live with each of them for a set amount of time. This is certainly the way that the courts lean when trying to preserve relationships between children and both of their parents, and most parents also want these relationships to stay intact.

But perhaps a child has expressed a wish to live with one parent or the other after you and your spouse divorce. Say that you have informed your spouse that you want to end the marriage, for example, and your child has said that they want to live with your spouse after the split. Obviously, you’re concerned about this because of how it would impact your relationship with your own child. Does your child even have the ability to make that decision? If they go to court and ask for that type of child custody arrangement, is the court going to respect their wishes and set it up that way?

It may depend on their age

As noted above, many modern courts do want to use shared custody when possible. However, they also will listen to a child’s preferences if they’re old enough. In Michigan, the law states that the court can consider “the reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.”

This doesn’t mean the court will go along with the child’s preferences. They will simply allow them to be expressed, and they will be considered along with other factors, such as the parents’ age, the financial situation, their parental roles, their health and much more. In other words, your child may ask to live with your ex 100% of the time, but the court may still decide that it would actually be in the child’s best interests to spend some time residing with both parents. It is not obligated to rule in the way that the child wishes. But it may take it into account when looking at all of the various factors in play.

If you have questions or concerns about this subject, seeking legal guidance will allow you to benefit from personalized feedback that will empower you to make informed decisions moving forward.