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Baltimore County Family Law Attorney Blog

Baltimore & Towson Lawyer Discusses The Child's Preference In Custody Matters

Written by Amar Weisman » August 21, 2015 »

Depending on their ages, children can experience a variety of feelings and emotions when they learn that their parents are separating or divorcing. There is no question that divorce can be difficult on all involved, including the kids and even extended family members who may live in the household.

Once children learn that their time will soon be divided between two households, many of them are able to express their wants and preferences clearly to their parents, grandparents and anyone else who will listen. Still, many parents often wonder: How old must children be before they can decide where they want to live?

When parents can’t agree on a visitation schedule or parenting plan, the stakes are often much higher. On its face, the question of “how old is old enough” may not seem to be all that difficult; however, the answer to the question can lead to a number of complexities for the divorcing couple.

The Court’s Involvement in Resolving the Issue

In Maryland and other states, the courts that handle divorce cases will consider various factors when dealing with custody issues, including the parents and the child’s wants, needs and preferences. Still, it is important for parents to keep in mind that the court’s primary goal when dealing with child-related issues is to always consider the best interest of the child, not necessarily the intentions or preferences of the parents or the child.

That being the case, there generally is no specific age established for when a minor can choose with whom he or she wants to live. Quite often, the court will treat a minor as being incompetent or too immature to make such a decision, as they often do not have the capacity to know what is in their best interest. Such decisions are generally left up to the judge who is better equipped to decide the appropriate course of action.

Still, judges and courts usually prefer parents to work such issues out themselves where possible, as many of them do not want to make such important decisions since they are not aware of each and every detail of the family dynamic. Parents are often asked to set aside any differences or resentment they may have to reach a suitable parenting plan that will be in their child’s best interest. However, many parents simply cannot get past their own issues to consider what’s best for the child.

An Older Child’s Wishes Won’t Completely Be Ignored

Even though judges typically do not allow children to decide where they want to live, if the child is older, his or her preferences may have more impact on the judge’s final decision. This is because no judge wants to force a child to live where he or she does not wish to live. Generally speaking, the judge will consider many criteria, including the environment at each parent’s home, the effect the move will have on the child and other family members who may live with the divorcing couple, the maturity level and intellectual development of the child and the stability of the parent with whom the child would like to live.

If you are going through a divorce and you have concerns about your child’s living arrangements, contact Amar Weisman, LLC. Mr. Weisman is a skilled Towson family lawyer who can help you resolve some of the issues you will face when dealing with child custody and visitation rights.

Call (410) 321-4994 For a Free Consultation

Call The Law Offices of Amar S. Weisman at (410) 321-4994 to schedule a Free Consultation. The Purpose of the consultation is to determine whether you want to retain this law firm as your Baltimore County & Harford County Family Lawyer. If you do wish to proceed, then you must pay a retainer. See Our Policy on Fees and Costs. The family firm is located next to The Circuit Court for Baltimore County, at 1018 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson, MD 21204.