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Can your child decide where to live during a divorce?

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2022 | Child Custody, Divorce |

When you and your spouse decided to get a divorce, you did so at that time because you thought your child was independent enough to understand the reasoning and to be happy with a custody schedule that allowed them some freedom.

What you found instead was that your child wasn’t very eager to follow the plan you thought would work best for them. They’re outspoken and defiant, putting you in a difficult position. They want to speak on their own behalf and make their own schedule, but can they?

New York makes decisions about the child’s care until the age of 18

By law, it is the New York courts that have a right to make decisions about where your child lives and what’s in there best interests. While your child may have the right to state their preferences once they reach their teenage years, the judge still has a right to make a different decision for their health and safety. Similarly, you and the other parent have the opportunity to propose a plan that works for you, and the judge may agree that it is also in your child’s best interests even if your child doesn’t think so.

Many parents share custody around 50-50, but if one parent is going to be the primary custodian for an older child, it may be reasonable to listen to your child’s wishes and see if what they want is reasonable. Particularly in the case of older children, having a discussion to help them understand what schedule will be used and why could help minimize the risk of conflicts.

Your child is a minor and doesn’t get the final say

Until your child is 18, they don’t get an official say in where they live or what they do. They are a minor, and you, as parents, will have a right to do what you think is best for them. If a judge doesn’t agree, they may make different plans based on your requests and your child’s opinion. This is something to think about as you design a custody schedule to suit your growing child.