Can children choose where they live after divorce?

When working through a divorce with your spouse, if you have children together, one of the biggest issues you’ll have is determining how you will divide custody and where the kids will live. In some cases, parents can work this out between themselves. In other cases, the court has to help them if they cannot agree.

One common divorce myth, though, is that the children get to pick where they live. This worries some parents. What if your 10-year-old decides that they want to live with your ex full-time and you rarely get to see them? Is that all it takes to cut them out of your life?

Don’t worry. The court may consider what your child wants, especially in cases with older children. A 17-year-old high school senior may have some strong preferences, and that likely will matter to the court. However, all they do is consider it as one potential factor. They also consider what is best for the parents and the children — even when that is not the same as what the children say that they want.

While your children are free to have an opinion and may get to make a request in court, don’t assume that they have too much power and get to make the decisions regarding custody and visitation. There is far more to think about than just where your child wants to live at that moment.

As you and your family work through the divorce and custody decision process, it is important to let your attorney know what you’re seeking so that they can help you work towards your goals.