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Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With?

by | Aug 8, 2023 | Uncategorized |

In a divorce involving children, there are often concerns about custody. Who gets custody of the children? How much time does each parent get to spend with the child?

The parents will often voice their desires for custody, but what does the child want? Who do they want to live with?

Does a child’s preferences matter in Michigan? It does under certain circumstances. A child’s preference for custody may be considered as part of the best interests of the child standard. Here is what you need to know as a parent.

What the Law Says

Under the Michigan Legislature, Section 722.23, the best interests of the child are defined. There are various factors considered by the court. One of them is:

The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.

This means that children of a certain age can have a say in custody matters. They can state their preference if the court thinks they are old enough. This does not mean that the judge will automatically go with what the child wants. However, they will listen to the child and take into account their reasons and concerns. However, a judge will not disclose the child’s preference.

When it comes to listening to the child and taking their preferences into account, the older, the better, although a judge may interview a child as young as 6 years old. While a court will not let a teenager decide which parent to live with, they will consider the child’s reasons for choosing a certain parent over the other. Perhaps one parent has been the primary caregiver. Maybe one parent lives closer to the school, friends, and other family members. Or perhaps there are issues of neglect or abuse. The judge will take these issues into consideration. 

However, a child does not always have a say. When a parent requests a change to the parenting time order, the judge is one who has to make a decision. That’s because there are specific conditions required to change parenting time orders. In these situations, the judge alone has to determine what is in the best interest of the child. The judge will consider all the other factors, such as the parent-child relationship, any domestic violence, the moral fitness of the parents, the physical and mental health of everyone involved, and the stability of the home life. 

In any case, there is only one situation in which the child can choose which parent to live with — when the child is no longer a child and becomes an adult. Once the child reaches the age of 18, they can choose to live with either parent, or they can live on their own. 

Contact Us Today 

While a child cannot technically choose which parent to live with during a Michigan divorce, they do have a say in the matter if they are at least a certain age. 

The Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins can help you deal with child custody matters and answer your questions. We represent mothers and fathers. Fill out the online form or call (248) 646-7980 to schedule a consultation.