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Can my child's father force them to return to his home if they no longer wish to live there?

Roseburg, OR |

our child is 17 years old. we both live in Oregon. currently the father has sole custody, and I have visitation.

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Attorney answers 2


Well it is hard to control a 17 year old. But the legal technical answer is that the current custody order is what it is - the father has legal custody and that is where the 17 year old needs to live until a court changes the order. While the 17 years old might run away and the police may not want to devote time to bringing the 17 year old home - be aware that if the 17 year old comes to your house and it is not your visitation day, you can be charged with the crime of custodial interference if you don't take action to help return the 17 year old to the custodial parent. At a minimum you would have a duty to let the father know that the 17 year old has showed up at your door. You shouldn't encourage the 17 year old to stay with you on your non-visitation days. The better way to deal with the situation is to file for a modification of the custody/visitation and let the 17 year old participate. Children over the age of 14 can be allowed limited participation in legal matters that effect them. So the Judge might listen to the 17 year olds reasons for wanting to stay with you. But keep in mind that trying to avoid the rules and discipline of one parent in favor of a more lenient parent is not going to go over very well with the court - so if the 17 year old is just playing games to be able to stay out later and party more with their friends - this is not a good reason to go back to court and request a change. It might be wise to talk to an attorney about what is going on in the father's household that the 17 year old doesn't like to see if this is a good reason to involve the court. After all - they will be 18 soon so maybe just sticking it out until their next birthday is the path or least resistance.

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I agree entirely with Ms. Reisman's answer. I write separately only to mention this: If you do file a motion to modify custody, your son has the right to request that the Court appoint an attorney to represent him in the matter. The Court can do this in any custody case, but if the child requests it, they are required to make such an appointment.

The Court will commonly assign an attorney from a list of eligible lawyers in the county - so the child can't necessarily choose who his attorney will be. The costs of that attorney will be divided as seems fair between the parties. Sometimes, in cases with low-income clients, these attorneys will work for reduced rates, or even occasionally for free. But if they are to be paid, it's important to make your payments timely; in theory, an attorney's opinion should not be affected by whether or not you've paid your share to them, but in practice, it may affect things a bit...

You should have your own attorney as well, if you are considering a motion to modify child custody. But again, your son is already 17. These cases can take several months to resolve, and in the meantime, things won't change much. It may be more efficient for you all to just tough it out until he's 18. This will be a good lesson for him about the need for perseverance, later in life.

Please read the following notice: <br> <br> Jay Bodzin is licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon and the Federal District of Oregon, and cannot give advice about the laws of other jurisdictions. All comments on this site are intended for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. No posts or comments on this site are in any way confidential. Each case is unique. You are advised to have counsel at all stages of any legal proceeding, and to speak with your own lawyer in private to get advice about your specific situation. <br> <br> Jay Bodzin, Northwest Law Office, 2075 SW First Avenue, Suite 2J, Portland, OR 97201 | Telephone: 503-227-0965 | Facsimile: 503-345-0926 | Email: | Online:

Joanne Reisman

Joanne Reisman


I deliberately didn't mention having a third attorney appointed. I think it can be an added cost that you will get stuck paying. A 17 year old can be called as your witness to state what the problems are - it is not as horrific as calling a 10 year old to testify but you do need to consider the impact on the child and their relationship with the other parent carefully. There could be a situation where the 17 year old shouldn't be involved (emotional issues, immaturity, fear of retribution from an abusive parent, etc) and would need a separate advocate. If you think that the 17 year old needs their own paid advocate do it. If you aren't sure, at least consult with an attorney before you move ahead. Don't count on an attorney working at a reduced rate or for free. I have had clients get hit with some pretty hefty attorney fee bills for their child's court appointed attorney. But if you are dealing with a rebellious teenager that just wants less rules and maybe thinks you are easier to manipulate, then maybe letting the 17 year old tell the Judge these things and let the Judge lay down the rules to them, would get you off the hook, teach your 17 year old about the world and that they don't always get their way, and make things easier on everyone. It's hard to say without knowing more aobut the underlying facts so: It might be wise to talk to an attorney about what is going on in the father's household that the 17 year old doesn't like to see if this is a good reason to involve the court