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At what age can a child decide which parent he wants to live with?

Wenatchee, WA |

At what age can a minor make a decision about which parent they want to live with or refuse to visit a parent? In general, how do judges approach custody cases in Washington?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. In WA, when they are no longer children and turn 18. Judges weigh the evidence and do what they feel is in the best interests of the children.


  2. Eighteen. Once the child is an adult, the child can decide for themselves where they want to live. Before then it is up to a judge. If a judge has all ready said where the child is to live, that is essentially the end of the matter.

    If other evidence has convinced you that there is a threat to the child's health and safety, and you can prove that with evidence that does *not* come from the child, then you can consider asking the judge to modify or change their court order. The judge can appoint a Guardian ad Litem to investigate the underlying facts and report back to the Court. It can go either way. And either way can be breathtakingly expensive, so you want to tread carefully.

    Persons under the age of eighteen are presumed to need a parent to provide them with guidance. Frequently the person under the age of eighteen doesn't think much of that guidance. Witness teen-age clothing choices. Is that child going to make the same choices at 25? Probably not.

    When kids resent their parent, they think they can get out of doing homework, or having restrictions, because their other parent would not make them eat reasonable food and not flatly prohibit them from staying out all night. This does not represent adult decision-making, and that is why kids have parents.

    Elizabeth Powell

    Using Avvo does not form an attorney client relationship.


  3. In Wa. state, children do not have the ability to choose with whom they want to live -- that is a decision left tot he parentsand the court.

    Please note that THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT INTENDED AS LEGAL ADVICE and are for informational purposes only. This response is not intended to create any attorney-client relationship and is only based on the limited facts given. The response might change should additional facts be learned and should not be relied on as legal advice. It is recommended that you consult with an attorney who can properly assess the situation, as well as all pertinent facts, prior to taking any action based on the foregoing statements


  4. 18. The opinion of a child of suitable age and maturity can be considered by the court

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