My son is about to turn 12 and wants to come back and live with me but I am not sure of the procedures. Could you please help me? Thanks
Criminal Defense Attorney
As a general rule, the courts don't really start to listen to the children as to where they want to live until they're about 14-15 and that's if they are very mature for their age. That may vary from state to state, however, so check with a local attorney. Good luck.
Lawsuit / Dispute Attorney
The judge will decide. There is no magic age when children get to decide custody. The best interest of the child is the standard.
The law regarding a child's 'right'* to choose is a matter for each State and jurisdiction. The judge in most States, not the child, makes the decision based on the best interest of the child. Although not a standard by any means, many States have begun to give 'consideration' to a child's declaration of custodial preference when the child reaches the age of twelve or thirteen, sometimes fourteen. There are even cases when children of age 9 are allowed to testify.
The judge is normally given almost unlimited latitude in whether or not she or he listens to a child and how much weight to give to the child's wishes. In short, there is no specific "age" but the younger the child the less likely for a judge to give the stated preference much weight.
Good luck to you.
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Divorce / Separation Lawyer
Matters of custody and visitation in Virginia are determined by the "best interest" factors found at Va. Code 20-124.3.
Factor 8 says, "The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age and experience to express such a preference."
So, there is no threshold age for a child to express a preference. Also, the child's preference is only 1 of 10 factors the court considers.