After divorce, or during the process, some parents worry that their children are going to pick where they want to live — and it won’t be with them. For instance, a mother may want to share custody of her son with his father, but she will worry that the boy will choose to live only with his father instead since the rules are a bit more relaxed at his house. This can work both ways, obviously, but the example just gives you an idea of how this fear is founded.
If you’re worried about this, here’s one key thing to remember: As long as your child is a minor, he or she can’t decide where to live. That’s just not how it works. Parents are in charge of their children. If the parents get divorced and the judge gets put in charge of the custody arrangement, that power then lies with the judge. It never lies solely with a minor child.
Parents often have these concerns tied to the kids’ age. They know that they can decide where a five-year-old should live, for instance, but they worry that their 13-year-old will get to choose. The reason for this is that, as children get older, the court will listen to their requests about where they want to live. But that does not mean the young teen can tell the court what ruling to make. It just means that the teen’s desires will be considered. Again, this is not a choice the teen makes on their own.
As you sort out your child custody situation, make sure you understand how it works and what common myths to avoid.