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Can a 14 year old choose which parent to live with even though the custodial parent of 10 years objects?

Lakewood, WA |

I have 14 yr old twins. The non custodial parent has lived in the same city but had NO involvement or acknowledgement of ANY kind for 8 years. He resurfaced this summer (2008), for visitations. A parenting plan was executed in 1999 but never honored by the father. When served with a threat of contempt of court, I reluctantly agreed to limited and progressive visitations at my childrens' requests. After 2 months my twin daughter refused to visit again because of continuous negative remarks about me. My twin son continued visitations. There have been several issues including picking my son up only to drop him off each day of that given weekend at my son's girlfriend's house for the majority of each day. My son has recently been acting withdrawn, angry, distant and out of character. He has stated to other parents that abuse is occuring in my home and that he is unhappy. These parents stated that he said he was going to move in with his biological father. Both my children are in AP classes, get straight A's (and ALWAYS have) are stand out athletes in sports year round, and recipients of MANY awards including science fair, sport team captians, poetry winners, etc. There is absolutely NO abuse occuring, but my son doesn't agree with how strict I am (and always have been) about girlfriends. When I recently confronted him about his behaviors he confirmed that he was acting out and trying to instigate me because he wanted to live with his father. He is trying to force me to "give up" and just let him go. His father hasn't done anything that constitutes abuse aside from not behaving as a parent but as a friend and letting my son do whatever he wants without regard to sport committments, academics, or obvious bounderies that should be reinforced for adolecents.

Attorney Answers 2


  1. In most states, the child's choice can be considered at 14, but is NOT the only factor. For example, if Dad lives in a crack house and runs a biker gang, even if the child wants to stay with him, it wont happen.

    My standard disclaimer: I am not offering legal advice, assume I do not know the law in your state and that I am just making suggestions for starting points for when you do speak with an attorney. Do NOT rely on anything I write and contact a lawyer in your area immediately after reading my posting.


  2. Unfortunately, this is a common problem. The bottom line in Washington is that the parents have to stick to the parenting plan and the child DOES NOT have the right to choose after the plan is entered. You can try counseling for your child. On the other hand, you have to make sure the kids follow the Plan or you will be found in contempt unless you modify the plan.

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