My child just turned 12 – can they choose who they live with now?
“My child just turned 12. I’ve heard that they can now choose who they live with. They have always wanted to live with me and they are really excited about being able to come and live with me now. How do I make this happen?”
Children have no more right to choose who they live with than what school they go to or anything else in their lives that is not a matter of parental authority. The right to choose arises when children turn 18 and are no longer “children”.
The Family Law Act provides that part of the enquiry a family law court needs to make when considering what is in a child’s best interests, is what is the child’s wishes?
This evidence is usually gathered from a family report prepared by a child psychologist or social worker appointed by the court or by the parties. It isn’t always necessary to start a court case in order to obtain a family report. It is common for parties to agree that this is a usual step in the process of enquiry and to obtain a family report without recourse to the family law courts.
A child expressing strong wishes to live with one parent rather than the other will not “win the day”, if there are other factors which indicate that despite the child’s very strong wishes, it may not be in their best interests to live with that parent. Those other factors are often drug, alcohol, abuse or mental ill-health issues in that parent’s household.
To take steps to get your child living with you, contact us at Freedom Law to find out how.
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