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How old must I be to choose which parent to live with in SC?

York, SC |

I am 13 and would like to live with my father permanently for many reasons. Am I old enough to choose or present my case a judge?

Attorney Answers 2


  1. Best answer

    There is case law in SC suggesting that a 6-year-old's desire is not strongly considered, but a 16-year-old's is. You are closer to the 16-year-old in age, but age is only one factor a judge may take into account. The judge will look at the situation as a whole to determine whether or not it is in your best interest to honor your wish to live with your father, and he or she may talk with you in private in his or her chambers. (A lot of times they are moms or dads, too, and will want to talk to you somewhat informally, so don't be afraid to talk to the judge. It sounds like you aren't, though!)

    Assuming your parents are currently in the middle of their court case, then I'll suggest that you speak to the guardian ad litem, if there is one, about your desire to live with your father. If not, I'd suggest speaking to your counselor, if you have one, or simply trying to speak with your parents about it. I'm sure your father would be happy to listen, and though your mother might be resistant, she may surprise you and listen. You could speak to your father's attorney, but I'll warn you that many attorneys hesitate to involve children in divorce/separation/custody cases, so he or she might not be willing to ask that you can speak with the judge to express your desire.

    If your parents are not in the middle of their court case, then I would try speaking to any counselor that you have and/or other family members to see if they can help you.

    Also, if there is anything going on when you are in your mother or your father's care that makes you uncomfortable or puts you in danger in any way, don't be afraid to call the police and/or DSS at 803-909-7446 or 803-684-2315. They are there to help you!

    I wish you all the best as you go through this.

    Please note that the information contained in this response does not create an attorney-client relationship. An attorney client-relationship is not established until a signed agreement is made between the attorney and a prospective client.


  2. You should be, ask your father or his attorney for permission to talk with the judge.

    Please only call me if your case is in California as I am only licensed here and laws of other states may vary. I approach trials and issues from a legal and common sense approach, This is how the majority of judges I have appeared before in 40 years also make decisions. I do not intend by my advice to enter an attorney client relationship and in most cases advise to obtain legal representation. Sometimes if you can not afford it a consultation or limited scope representation is available. As an experienced attorney I can tell you, judges can be impatient, hate emotional arguments and over exagerations or lies. A brief outline of the problems and desired solutions is always best and I often in limited scope representations advise clients on how to proceed at time of hearing or trial and my fees are considerably less when I do not appear in court as it takes much less of my time.

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