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How old does a child need to be to choose which divorced parent they live with newyork/southcarolina

Columbia, SC |

i am 14 i hate living with my father, even though he provides good for me we just dont get along. i want to live with my mother.

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Attorney answers 3


Most courts do not have a specific age limit just as long as the child can express himself/herself intelligently about whom they prefer to live with. The courts will probably look at other factors as well in deciding who to grant custody to such as what is in the best interests of the child. The court will probably look to who has a more stable working/home environment and where you have been living all along. The courts will also take into account that you've grown up in SC and may be reluctant to order custody to a parent who is moving to NY.

This answer is to be considered general advice and may not be the actual law in your jurisdiction. It also does not constitute an attorney-client relationship or privilege.


Age fourteen is a time when courts start paying close attention to what the child wants, but you also need to have good reasons. For example, if you wanted to move to live with the other parent because your Dad made you do your homework and your Mom didn't, that would not be a good reason for changing. So, why do you want to live with your mother? What kind of relationship do you have already? Are you sure things would be better there? I suggest you start by taking a piece of paper and drawing a line down the middle. On the left side, write the reasons you should stay in SC, and on the right side write down the reasons that lean in favor of moving to NY. See if you can come up with a list of objective, positive reasons.

The next step would be to discuss this with your parents, if possible, and see if you could get them to see things your way. Court action is very expensive. If your parents could agree, you'd all be much better off. There is also room for compromise. Perhaps you could live all summer and for holidays in one place, and then live the other place during the school year. (Which place has better schools? Where are most of your friends?) I'm sure both your parents want you to be happy and well adjusted. If there is something that is keeping you from being happy here, how can that be fixed, whether or not you move to NY?

I'd like to suggest that your school guidance counselor may be a person you could talk to about this issue and help you think through the issues and then also talk about how to present these ideas to your parents. Or, if there is a teacher you really like at school, or youth director at your church, they might be able to help you think it through and develop a strategy either for discussing this with your parents or for making your life more happy here.


A specific fact that needs to be known about your situation is which state decided the custody issue between your mother and father? Also, how long have you lived with your father here in SC? These issues decide which state would have jurisdiction to make a decision as to your custody status.

The next factor to determine is whether or not there has been a "significant change in circumstances" relating to your custody since the original determination of the court. Once a court has adjudicated custody status, there must be reasons (not just personal preferences) for the court to revisit the issue of custody. Courts (and lawyers) are very aggressive in insisting upon proof of a significant change in circumstances and a failure to show this will result in a case being dismissed without even deciding the issue of custody. The reason for this requirement is to keep the losing parent from refiling a new custody case immediately after they lose on a prior one. If this wasn't enforced, then the courts would stay tied up with repetitive cases.

You are of the age in both states where the court would listen to you and take into consideration your preference of custodial parent. However, your preference alone (without significant proof of change of circumstances) does not present an issue for which the court would revisit the issue of custody. Even though the court will let you state your preference, it is not guided by your preference alone and will listen to all other evidence from all parties about what is in your best interest. (I know that a 14 year old can be very intelligent and mature and even believe that they know what is in their best interest, however, the issues that the court must determine are much more involved and complicated than what the 14 year old would normall consider sufficient justification.) And the court must look into whether or not your preference or decision has been unduly influenced by inducements or promises by either party.

Remember that custody battles are costly and painful. As a minor, you do not bear the expense of them....your parents do. Also, as a minor, barring extremely rare circumstances, you cannot have the court open this issue on your own behalf. It would require your mother or father filing pleadings with the court to open a new case for custody.

DISCLAIMER – LEGAL ADVICE If you found this answer helpful, let me know by clicking the Thumbs-Up tab at the bottom. You may mark this as a Best Answer for the time I spent crafting this and thinking about your matter. My comments are not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship, are not confidential, and are not intended to constitute legal advice. Proper legal advice can only be given by an attorney who agrees to represent you, who reviews the facts of your specific case, who does not have a conflict of interest preventing the representation, and who is licensed to practice in the appropriate jurisdiction where the legal issue may be filed or in the state where the law applies.

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