My son has been with me since birth. Monday after seven years of not calling or contact, no childsupport for a year he calls to tell me i have three choice either he can sign his rights away, I can let him see him and he will pay child support or he will take me to court for full custody. I told him didn't you just hear your son say he doesn't want to talk to you I'm sorry you haven't been in his life and you haven't called him. Well he told me I had those three choices, I started crying and told him that you just can't do that to a kid that is 15 years old and you haven't seen since he was seven you haven't even tried to call or to contact him he proceeded to lie and said that he has tried to contact but it's funny how his mom six months ago contacts me and I accept her friend request on Facebook hoping and praying his dad had something to do with it and maybe it wasn't too late for them to get together but I am not going to make my son do something he doesn't want to do right now he is a straight A students and ninth grade and I don't want to mess that up and I don't want him to have to worry about not being at his home that he has been at his whole life.
At any age a child can speak directly to the judge or through a counselor or guardian ad litem. It is not binding on the judge at any age.
The answers submitted by Teresa Rieger Housholder, attorney at law, licensed in Missouri, and the Housholder Law Firm, LLC are for informational purposes only, do not constitute legal advice, are not intended to be advertising, and are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. The transmission of information on AVVO is not intended to establish, and receipt of such information does not establish or constitute, an attorney-client relationship in any capacity. The reader should not act on the answers without first consulting legal counsel. Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.
There is no specific statute or law in Missouri that says a child gets to say where they want to live at any age. There are in some states, but not here. The child's wishes are just one of 8 custody factors a judge has to consider when awarding custody and parenting time. But, the older the child, the more likely the court might interview them, or consider their wishes. Once they get to be older teens, courts are less likely to punish a parent if the child doesn't go with the other parent when scheduled, but that varies from court to court and judge to judge. Someone needs to file a case and bring up the issue. That being said, the courts do encourage parent/child relationships, even when one parent doesn't want it, and sometimes they do kind of force the situation, but Dad's late entry to the matter (waiting 15 years to file a custody case) will also be viewed a little differently than if he'd filed when the child was small. This could be motivated by child support enforcement coming after him -- he's trying to get parenting time in attempts to lower his child support amount perhaps.
Every judge is different when it comes to issues such as this. Some judges may require contact between son and father, even if it's just joint counseling. Some judges may not force the contact. The only way to know how the judge in your county, who is assigned to your case, has handled similar cases in the past, is to schedule a consultation with an experienced family law attorney who regularly practices in that county and before that judge. That attorney should be able to discuss how this judge has handled similar cases in the past and better advise you on how to proceed, and what risks you face with each option that is available to you.
The specific facts are different in each individual case, my response is provided for general, informational purposes only and should not be construed as specific advice directed to any individual person. Since I have not had the opportunity to review all the specific facts and any supporting or explanatory documents in this matter, this general opinion should not be relied upon in your specific case. This communication is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship with any specific person and should not be construed to create an attorney-client relationship by any individual.
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