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Is there a special age that a child can actually say if he or she wants to actually visit with the other parent and if so when?

Canada, KY |

My Ex and I have 2 girls aged 12 and 10 the youngest lives with me the mother and the 12 yr old lives with her father. My 10 year old tells me she doesnt want to visit with her father but she has to cause the court says so and also my 12 year visits with me every other weekend so they alternate the weekends. I Got Married 2 years ago and when my 12 year old comes for her visits its like she dont want to be here and it just feels so wrong cause she dont sit with us and talk or doesnt even talk to her stepfather i know its hard for her because i got remarried but she is the same with me she dont kiss goodnight or goodbye when she leaves i always have to ask her. We try to make her feel comfortable but i guess she doesnt want it and i cant talk to her father cause he only yells at me and tells me everything is my fault so i have no communication with him at all. My 12 year old will call some times when she is suppose to come and tell me she is sick so i tell her its ok just stay home so you can relax and get better but on the other hand my 10 year was sick last year with a fever of 103 and she called and said she was sick and he phoned me back and said if i didnt bring her to visit him he was bringing the cops to my house and so i contacted my lawyer and she said unless she cant walk she has to go which i think is so unfair to the child. My 10 yr has gotten sick and cryed cause she dont want to go to her dads house but is made to by the courts. I dont think its right that my children should have to be made to go where they dont want to , its like they are forced to.I just dont think this is the right thing to be happening cause its not like either child is happy about visiting the other parent at all and My Husband and I are feeling all weird cause she dont want to come here or talk to us, she comes on Friday at 4:30 till Sunday at 7 and she says like 5 words to my husband and 10 to me. The court order we have says the weekends when its our weekend for the visit if its a holiday on the Monday like Thanksgiving or christmas or a school holiday they can stay till Monday at 7 pm. My 12 asks me all the time if she can go home on sunday to be with her father on the holiday and I always say yes cause why should she have to stay when she dont want to. If my 10 year old did that he would have a fit and send the police. Its really so unfair to us all and especially the children. I dont know what the family laws are I heard that when a child is 12 years old they can tell the courts if they want to visit with the other parent or not. I dont know if its true or not but im hopeing something is available for these poor children going threw this. Sometimes when i pick up my 12 year old she has been crying and i ask her whats wrong and she just tells me she dont feel well or I think is her tummy sore because she has to come here? I asked her tonight when she went home if she enjoys comeing for the weekend and she says yes but I think she only comes because her dad thinks if she dont come he will get into trouble with the courts cause its a court order and she might think if she says she dont want to come she will hurt my feelings. I know children shouldnt have to feel like this its so wrong. My 10 year old has to go to her dads for the weekend on halloween and she cryed and said Mommy this is the first Halloween you wont be taking me out for trick or treating and I dont want to go but i just say go and have fun hun its ok and call me when ya get home and the sad thing is she knows she has to go and she dont have a choice so she says nothing, So Im just asking if there is a age bracket where they can speak out for them selves and actually say what they want instead what they have to do? And if there is a age bracket do they have to go to court also or will it be like writing a signed document, I'm just curious how it works? I thank you for taking your time and reading this article and answering my questions. Thank you for your time and bye

Attorney Answers 3


Most judges will want to consider what a mature, articulate 10 year old has to say about her living arrangements and her preferences to live with another parent. The child's preference is not necessarily the final word at the age of 10, but it will be given considerable weight. What this means is that if your child clearly and consistently expresses a desire to live with you and her sibling, you should have this documented by a therapist or law guardian for the child. You should file a petition in Family Court and appear with a lawyer on the court date. You should encourage the child's relationship with the other parent and make that a priority. Both parents should be realistic about what the child wants and needs. In a sense, the transfer of custody will become inevitable if the child really desires it, and the parents should keep that in mind.

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There are many issues raised by your narrative. How you act and relate wqith the older child has no bearing on what should happen with the 10 year old going to her dad's place.You seem to be relating properly with the 12 year old who lives primarily at her dad's residence. It sounds to me like everyone needs to be involved in family therapy so that a trained therapist can work through the conflicts with each parent and with each child.

Let me spend some time explaining how a court "listens" to what a minor child wants and how well it is expressed. Children as young as seven are able to express a preference, but only if the child is mature and specific about her desires and has good reasons for coming to the conclusions expressed. As a child gets older, and more mature, and maturity rather than chronological age is the important factor, the court gives greater weight to the child's expressed desires. When a child reaches 16 or so, unless the child comes off as very immature, the court will almost always go along with the child's wishes, unless it is clearly not in the child's best interest to do so. How mature is your child? What is the court liable to do with her opinion? One way to find out is to discuss the child's maturity with the pediatrician as a first step. Then you can ask the court to have a court mediator interview the child and report back to the court. In some cases, you can ask the court to appoint an attorney for the child, though in these tougher econo0mic times the court doesn't have the resources to pay for child's counsel and so the bill is often passed on to the parents.

I realize this is a little long, but it should give you a bit of an idea of the process. You are best to diuscuss these matters with an attorney in your area. You might try clicking on and contacting the Program Coordinator of Pike County's Divorce Education program to help find resources in your area. Good luck to you asnd your children.

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Since it would be inefficient and probably unhelpful to address the specific nuances of your perspective of this case, I will respond to your main inquiry only. Each state has different statutory and case law as to what age and maturity level entitles/requires a court to listen to a child's point of view regarding custody preferences. Each judge has different procedures as to whether he or she will hear fromthe child in court or in chambers, with the attorneys and/or parties present, and whether the child's position is even relevant. For example, in PA, I have had a Judge talk to a 6 year old boy in a Relocation case and a different Judge refuse to meet with a 14 year old boy in a Visitation case.

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