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When a child turns 12 can they just automatically choose which parent to live with or does the noncustodial parent have to take the custodial parent to court first?

My 10 year old son is on this kick where he keeps saying he is going to move in with his dad when he turns 12. I know that is the legal age where the child has the right to decided which parent to live with but does the non custodial parent have to take it to court first and if the custodial parent disagrees with it...does it have to be proven that its in the childs best interest to make the move or to stay where they have been living for thier entire life?
I know I could ask a lawyer but I wanted to get advice from all-knowing moms first. :)


Asked by Anonymous at 3:07 PM on Mar. 10, 2010 in Tweens (9-12)

This question is closed.
Answers (8)
  • It depends on what state you live in. I think it should be something both parents discuss & come to a decision on themselves(if that is possible.) I have full legal custody of my 3 children, however I allowed my 13 yr. old to go & live with his dad the past year. He is now 14 & has decided to stay with his dad & go to high school there. I'm fine with that because I know he loves to do the outdoor stuff with his dad & he is doing well in school & has made some good friends there. It was difficult to make the decision but when it comes down to it, I wanted him to be happy & be able to spend time with his father, as they have always been close.
    He is coming home for his sisters graduation this summer & we are very excited to see him. My ex is coming too, so he can see our daughter graduate & spend time with our other 2 children.

    Answer by bookworm65 at 8:08 PM on Mar. 11, 2010

  • It has to go to court, the judge will most likely want to speak with your son first and find out why he wants this. It's possible the judge will decline his request if the purpose is because you are more strict than the other parent, the other parent has a nicer house, etc. I worry what my son will do too when he turns that age because we're harder on him than his father, but it's far from in his best intrest to move with him. If you are against it, I'd make my case and write it all down so that you can try to prevent it.

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:11 PM on Mar. 10, 2010

  • You have to either agree to allow the child knowing the courts will favor the sons choice, or spend $3000 to go to court and have the court tell your son he should live where he wants. Now if your ex is unfit you could have a fighting chance of challening your childs choice. If your ex does drugs, deals drugs, is a prostitute, has a large criminal background, is in a gang, or has an abusive history through social services, no job, and no place to put his child then you could win. If thats your concern I would definately g to court to fight it. If your child is safe, cared for, and just wants to live with his dad, then you should let him. The best advice I ever heard a family court judge give was to a famly in this situation. He said anything after 12 is time you grab for, but really the kids know what they want.

    Answer by gemgem at 3:14 PM on Mar. 10, 2010

  • My son wants to live with his dad because I am the stricter parent..or I seem to be because he only goes to his dads when there is "fun" involved and his dad doesnt have to deal with the daily issues of raising him like I do. I don't think he would benefit from living with his father at all. He is an ignorant jack ass most of the time and a womanizer. He used to be an alchoholic and a drug abuser...but he claims that that is no longer the case.
    I just can not see my son living anywhere but with me. I am his MOTHER. I have been there for him since the day he was born..I can't just "let" him go at the age of 12 just because he wants to. He is my little boy. :( It's hard to even picture him leaving for college in the future when he turns 18. I have raised him,sat with him thu nights of him being sick,gotten him into sports and activities, where his dad has done nothing. I just don't get it. Its a sad and hard situation for sure

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:20 PM on Mar. 10, 2010

  • Being the mom doesnt automatically give you any special rights to your son over the dads rights. More and more in todays courts men are given custody, in some states, more then moms get it. They have steady jobs usually and its the women who stayed home with the kids that end up looking like they cant support their child. My son lives with his dad, he hates it. I get the "fun times", weekends, summer breaks and almost every holiday. But my son wants to come home with ME. I want him to also. We will be going back when hes 12 and getting custody again. My ex will fight it with many of the same arguments you have, but you know what? A judge KNOWS they have fun with the weekend parent, thats not the point. The point is if you ex is UNFIT. If not, your son can and probably will go. Id try maybe a compromise. Have him spend the summer there then see how he feels. He might change his mind.

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:31 PM on Mar. 10, 2010

  • They can't make the decision and just move. It has to be taken in front of a judge and it will be decided what is best for the child, but the child will have a say in the matter.

    Answer by tyfry7496 at 8:56 PM on Mar. 11, 2010

  • maybe he just needs more time with his dad- maybe if you could convince the husband to take part in the punishments more often it might show your son that time with dad is not all fun and games. Not saying he shouldn't have fun there, but maybe you can work together a bit more on it.
    then again, maybe I'm from OZ, but it's just a suggestion- hope it works out :)

    Answer by Anonymous at 4:19 PM on Mar. 12, 2010

  • I don't know how it works in your particular state, but in Illinois there is NEVER an age where a child can decide what is best for them, including a living situation. This is always decided by a judge and the non-custodial parent has the burden to prove why the child is in harm's way living with the current custodial parent.

    Answer by Anonymous at 11:34 PM on Mar. 12, 2010