Can my Child Choose Where to Live?

Possibly. It depends on your child’s age and maturity level. If your child expresses a desire to live with one parent or the other after your divorce, the main question the court will ask is “why?”

If the court determines that your child has the capacity to make an informed, rational decision about where he or she should live after your divorce, it may allow your child’s preference to play a role in determining his or her custody arrangement. Usually, the court considers opinions of adolescents. But even adolescents sometimes have poor reasons for wanting to live with one parent or the other, such as one parent having more relaxed household rules.

Another issue that the courts consider is that one parent might be heavily encouraging the child to express a preference for living with him or her. This is another reason why a child’s preference is only considered if he or she is proven to be capable of making a rational decision without others’ influence.

Preference is Only One Factor Considered

Even if the court does consider your child’s preference when determining his or her custody arrangement, your child’s opinion is only one of the many factors the court considers. Other factors the court may consider when making this decision include:

  • Each parent’s income and assets

  • Which household would allow for greater academic opportunities and achievements for your child

  • The individuals present in each household and their relationships with your child

  • Your child’s personal needs, such as the need for quick access to a hospital

  • Each parent’s relationship with the child

  • Each parent’s previous record of cooperation with the court

The weight that each of these factors carries in your custody case depends on your family’s individual circumstances. For example, a child who needs to attend therapy sessions on a weekly basis might be better served by spending most of his or her time in the household closer to his or her therapist’s office.

To learn more about these factors and how your unique circumstances can affect your child custody arrangement, contact The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC. today at 732-370-9596 to schedule your free legal consultation with our firm. We are a team of experienced family attorneys with an intimate knowledge of New Jersey family law. We are here to help you and advocate for you and your family. We proudly serve parents and families throughout Monmouth, Mercer, Ocean, Middlesex, and Burlington counties.

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