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What age is too young for children to choose who they want to live with?

Wayland, NY |

I just posted a comment about Law Guardians and in one of the answers I received, there was mention about the LG working with the children to find out where they would prefer to be, what parent. Unless the child was deemed incompetent due to age. Is there a certain age that a child has to be for this decision?

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Attorney answers 4


It varies based upon the maturity of the child. There is no set age in NY.

Good luck.


No, there is not a certain age, other than when they turn 18 family court no longer controls who has "custody." The attorney for the child will meet with their children and the judge will consider their position and desires relative to their ages. The younger they are, the less their opinion matters. In general, once children hit their teen years, their desires are most often followed by the court. Children between the ages of 10-12 is more of a grey area, with some courts taking their desires seriously and others not. The particular maturity of a child is also considered; if the attorney for the child feels that their client, no matter what their age, is able to make a sound decision as to where they want to live, that attorney should advocate that position.
However, as I stated earlier, that is just that attorney's opinion. Your attorney would also advocate your position, as would the father's. The attorney for the child does not necessarily prevail in what they want for their clients.



Well Susan Duke, you have helped me throughout the last few months by giving me answers that seem to have some feeling in them. If I could hire you, I would, but I will recommend you to anyone I come across looking for an attorney, in the future. Thank you.


There is no black and white answer to this. If the child is old enough to express an opinion, they'll usually be appointed an attorney. That child's preference is just one of many factors the court will take into consideration. The child's preference will be given more weight by the court the older the child is. Late teens, just about always goes the way the child desires. Single digit age, the child's preference is given MUCH less weight.

I am not your attorney and any posts/messages or responses to posts/messages can not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should not rely upon free legal advice and I disclaim any liability for the results if you do.


While there is no hard and fast rule, I have found that all things being equal, a judge will start to take a child's wishes seriously once the child turns 14. Again, it is based on the maturity and intelligence of the child in question.

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