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How old does a child need to be to say to a judge she wants to live with a specific parent which have joint custody?

Ellwood City, PA |

How old does a child have to be to take the stand and tell the judge they want to live with a specific parent? I live in Pa. I have a soon to be 13 yr old daughter that lives with me. She has always lived with me. Her father and I have joint custody although he only sees her every other weekend. He insists that he takes her 'half' the time even though his mother takes him because he is working or just not available. Since thats what the order says, he wants her to be anywhere but here on 'his' time. He wants to take me back to court, not sure why yet, and had already suggested our daughter move in with him. I do not want her living with him, and she don't want to live with him either. Once hes filed the papers for whatever hes doing, can I file for full custody and let my daughter speak to the judge about not wanting to live with him? He also wants to keep her overnight on school nights on 'his' days. I would rather her have a steady schedule and not be bounced around during school days. Homework gets lost and its not fair to her. I don't know what to do

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Attorney answers 1


There is no clear cut age when a court is willing to hear from a child. The court will consider many factors including age, maturity, IQ, etc. when deciding to hear from a child in a custody matter. One of the major issues is that must be made clear is no matter what the child says, it is never the child's decision. This is done for many reasons, including the potential long term harm a child may suffer years down the road by harboring a feeling of guilty that he/she made a bad decision or harmed one parent. Children should not have to choose.

I suggest you consult with and hire an attorney to seek modification. Keep in mind as a word of caution that the court may always rule against you.

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