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What Age Does My Child Have to Be to Choose Where He Wants to Live?

Posted by attorney Gail Towne

As a family law attorney, the most common question I get asked is when can a child decide which parent he or she wants to live with. I continue to be surprised at the misconceptions floating around out there which appear to be based on other unrelated guidelines like a babysitting age or a reasonable preference standard. One of the most common misconceptions is that a child can decide where to live once he or she turns 13. I have no idea what started this myth. I certainly have a few ideas, and could write pages pondering the topic or summarizing various fact specific scenarios which analyze one of the best interests factors, but my guess is that would probably lend more to the confusion. The simple answer (without getting into the issue of emancipation and other atypical circumstances) as to when a child gets to choose where he or she wants to live is. . . . . . . 18!

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