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Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With in a Divorce?

 Posted on December 28, 2022 in Divorce

Oakland County child custody lawyerCustody disputes between divorced or separated parents can be heated, and not only for the parents. Sometimes children have strong preferences about their living arrangements and may express those preferences, much to the disappointment or surprise of either parent. If you are engaged in a custody dispute in Michigan and are wondering whether your child has the authority to choose whether they live with one parent or the other, read this brief overview of the topic and then contact a Michigan child custody attorney who can help. 

How Old Does a Child Need to Be Before They Can Choose Which Parent They Live With? 

Ultimately, a child needs to be 18 before they can make any final decisions about where to live. However, Michigan law does allow the preferences of a child to be considered as one factor in custody decisions. However, it is only one factor out of many.

Other factors include: 

  • The established custodial environment - How long has the child lived in the current arrangement? Does the current arrangement seem to be working for everyone? 
  • Whether the child shows a consistent preference - If a child seems to continually change the parent they want to live with, a judge may be more hesitant to grant the child’s preferences. 
  • The relationship of the child with each parent - Does the child get along well with a particular parent? Is one parent making promises of little or no supervision or discipline? 
  • The child’s maturity - Is the child old enough to understand the circumstances of the custody case? Is the child simply trying to escape to a more “fun” house without understanding whether living with one parent would actually benefit them? 
  • The child’s level of comfort in the community - Would moving to live primarily with another parent disrupt the child’s education, extracurricular activities, religious community, or friend group? 
  • How well the parents get along - Is it possible for parents to facilitate custody transfers without fighting? Does the child understand the implications of leaving one parent for another? 

These are all questions that must be answered before a judge can issue an informed custody ruling. To get the information necessary, a judge will speak with both parents and the child and may even appoint a guardian ad litem to determine the child’s best interests and advocate for the child. Both parents can also present evidence that supports their proposed custody arrangement. 

Contact a Novi, MI Child Custody Lawyer

Whether you are hoping your child will choose to live with you or you are worried they may want to spend more time with their other parent than you are comfortable with, you need the advocacy and legal advice of an experienced Farmington Hills, MI child custody lawyer. At Elkouri Heath, PLC, we are here to help, regardless of your parenting goals or how complicated your situation may be. We will ensure you know your options under Michigan law and help you work towards a favorable resolution to your case. Call 248-344-9700 today. 




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