Skip to main content

How old does a child have to be to decide which parent they want to live with?

Baytown, TX |

My 9 year old son currently lives with his father and he has had custody of him since March 2006. Of course I do have visitation and pay child support. My son has asked to come live with me several times in the last year and I am more than ready if thast what he wants. His father tells him, "not right now," everytime he tells him what he wants. How old does a child have to be in teh state of Texas to make this decision?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 2


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.

NOTE: This answer is made available by the out-of-state lawyer for educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you understand that there is no attorney client privilege between you and the attorney responding.


Based on what you have written, the Texas Family Code suggests 12 as the age, but dependent upon case specifics that age may differ. Other than the father telling your son "not right now" what are the reasons why the child can not come live with you? Also, which court issued your current order - as that may have some control over any potential outcomes? If my local law firm can assist you with this legal issue or any other legal matter, please contact us at to arrange for an initial consultation.

Child custody topics

Recommended articles about Child custody

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer