Child’s Age and Child Custody

One of the most common questions parents ask is at what age can their children choose the custody and access arrangements.

The child’s age is always a factor in deciding custody and access. However, as the child ages, the importance of this factor increases.

The theoretical answer is children never choose. The court decides what is in the children’s best interests. What the children want is just one of several considerations the court takes into account.

As a practical answer, however, once a child reaches their teenage years, a court is hesitant to tell the children what to do. If a teenager is unhappy where they are staying, they can simply hop on a bus and go to the other parent’s home. As well, a court is hesitant to force a teenage to go to a parent’s home when the teenage doesn’t want to go.

This is obviously very problematic on two fronts. First, I’m not sure that teenagers always choose to do what’s in their best interest. I know that when I was a teenager that I did not always make the wisest choices. Choosing to go out every night to parties rather than studying is a choice I would have made as a teenager had I been permitted to. Certainly this would not have been in my best interest. If teenagers aren’t going to make proper choice about important issues such as their social life or schooling, why would they make better choices about what parenting regime is best?

Secondly, this is problematic because it often results in parents competing in a race to the bottom for having the children living with them. This is particularly so because child support depends on where the children live. The parents then try to outdo each other in spoiling the children to curry the children’s favour. Disneyland parent wins over do-your-homework parent. Further, teenagers are old enough to understand this and play it to their favour.

Other Articles about Child Custody

  • Common Child Custody Concerns – Perhaps the biggest thing that parents fear with regard to the issue of child custody is the possibility of having their children testifying in court.
  • Child Custody Assessments – A child custody assessment is an investigation by a psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker.
  • Age of Child and Custody – One of the most common questions parents ask is at what age can their children choose the custody and access arrangements.
  • Making Visitation Easier On the Children – Here are some ways to try and ease the visitation process and make it a little less painful for the kids.
  • Divorce and Relocating Children – Even if you have sole custody of your children you still must obtain the permission of the other parent before moving.
  • Joint Custody – “Joint custody” means that both parents have the right to make these decisions for their children.
  • Avoiding Summer Visitation Problems – When summer is coming, divorced and separated parents frequently run into problems with their custody and visitation situations during vacation periods.
  • Relocation Issues – What happens when one parent wants to move away with the children?

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