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Can My Child Choose Which Parent to Live With?

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On a fairly regular basis I am asked by a divorced parent how old their child must be before they can choose which parent they want to live with. Many parents tell me their child will be 12 years old, 13 years old, 14 years old soon and will be able to make their own decisions. They appear to be uniformly surprised to learn that a minor child does not have the legal right to decide which parent to live with.

Depending on the jurisdiction in which you live, the age of your child may matter only in terms of the weight a judge might give to a child’s preference, should he or she have one. In general, the older they are the more their preference might be considered. Their preferences are not usually considered in a vacuum, however. It could be that Susie might want to live with Dad because he is more lenient in his rules… He doesn’t make her go to church, let’s her stay out an hour later, doesn’t nag her about homework, etc. Or the preference might be because Mom is supportive of Joey’s desire to be on the soccer team or takes him to his horseback riding lessons or is excited about the dance program he is in. When Mom or Dad uniformly does not support a child’s activities when that activity spans the parenting time of both parents, it is not surprising to a judge that a child might have a preference. However, children rarely know all the details of how a parent decides to do something or what both parents talk about regarding their decisions. Sometimes the decisions are financially impacting one parent differently than the other. The child may only know that Mom or Dad is not taking them where they want to go but not that it is not affordable. Whatever the reason, by early to mid teens, a court is likely to take the child’s concerns into consideration in making an order while being very careful not to ask the child to make a decision and learning as much as possible about the context of that preference.

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Asking a child to make a decision, even when the child believes they would like to do so, is often detrimental. I have spoken with many adults who, as children, “got to choose” where to live when their parents divorced. In retrospect, they regretted having made a decision that was honored, feeling guilty about the parent they did not choose and feeling the tug of loyalty between the two people who brought them into the world. Anecdotally, this appears to be true whether they had a good relationship with the unchosen parent or not.

The responsibility of working out the parenting plan for their children rests with the parents. Parents may choose to work with a mental health professional with an expertise in this area to help them understand their differences and to talk through the various options available to them to make the transition the least disruptive for their children. When parents cannot have these conversations, even with help, they often find themselves bringing their indecision to court for a judge to intervene.

Some parents try to influence their children to see the situation as they do. This will often be an additional burden on the child who does not want to disappoint this parent or feels inadequate to resist their influence and also wants to maintain his or her relationship with the other parent. What are they supposed to do now? This is one of the most difficult experiences a child can have while already having to face all the changes due to the divorce itself. And, it is the type of behavior that is often seen as alienating by the other parent.

Children are not marginalized by having no voice, nor are they given the burden of deciding. It is the responsibility of the parents to protect their children from whatever conflict they might have and act together for the benefit of their children.

Related Articles:
Children and Divorce
How Parents Make it Difficult for Children to Love Their Other Parent
Unity in Parenting

© Copyright 2011 by Shendl Tuchman, PsyD, therapist in San Ramon, CA. All Rights Reserved.

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Comments
  • lisa June 3rd, 2011 at 12:39 PM #1

    it’s best if the parents sit together,put aside their ego and problems between them ad then really think what will be the best for the CHILD,not for themselves but for the child. They should then proceed to take that route. This really is the best way to go about things.

  • Laurie Smith June 3rd, 2011 at 4:16 PM #2

    I think it’s really unfair of any parent to decide to let the child choose. Okay, as you say that’s not exactly what happens but even to expect that of them is too big a burden to put on young shoulders. It’s like saying “tell us who you love most” and putting them in an impossible situation.

  • Zachary M. June 3rd, 2011 at 7:16 PM #3

    I don’t know why parents would think that’s a good thing anyway. Deep down they both know who is best for the child to live with and would take the best care of them.

    Do they seek to absolve themselves of the responsibility of both the decision and/or the child?

    Either way, that sucks. Children just aren’t mature enough to make that call.

  • Ken.L June 3rd, 2011 at 11:54 PM #4

    If the parents have a conflict over who gets to keep the child and if the child is old enough and matured enough, then I think it is perfectly alright to let the child decide.

    It will at least prevent the child feeling suffocated with a parent he didn’t want to end up with..

  • ryanne reid June 4th, 2011 at 4:31 AM #5

    Kids are just that- they are kids. That means that they do not necessarily know best even when they think otherwise. Choosing which parent that they should live with after going through a divorce is a huge responsibility and NOT one that most of the are going to be equipped to make. Think about the fact that they may not be able to put aside the hurt and even the guilt that they too could be feeling and be expected to make a rational and mature decision. Not that the adults involved will always be able to do that either but I think that they stand a better chance of doing that than children do.

  • Y. Levitz June 4th, 2011 at 12:41 PM #6

    @Laurie: They do it so they can throw back in their ex’s face how the kids wanted nothing to do with them and they knew mommy was the better parent.

    Of course mommy had spent plenty of time coaching them in secret about that before it all came in front of a judge.

    My ex sure had a game plan and she executed it like a pro. I wish she’d put half the effort into our marriage.

  • deliachambers June 4th, 2011 at 1:41 PM #7

    Actually, in some places, if a child is above the age of 14 I think (?) I’m fairly sure they are legally able to choose which parent to be with in all but the most extreme circumstances.

    However, I think that any child should be able to choose what parent to be with. Breakups are traumatic and it’s one thing they may feel they have a degree of control over.

  • Denny Hathaway June 4th, 2011 at 2:04 PM #8

    Forcing a child to be with the parent they don’t want to be with isn’t right either.

    If I was a teen and made to go with a parent I actually decided years ago I wanted nothing to do with I would act up, embarrass him constantly, and make sure that he knew I hated him.

    Where’s the good in that? Everybody’s unhappy then.

  • Scarlett June 4th, 2011 at 11:58 PM #9

    Kids choosing which parent to be with is not a good idea whatsoever.Younger kids do not have the mental maturity and analyzing power to decide and in case of older kids chances are that they have already moved out or at the college…

  • Doug Adams June 5th, 2011 at 3:50 AM #10

    No !!! This is not a decision for a child to make.
    I bet that a lot of parents want to put this on the kids so that they do not have to be the bad guy but this is not something that a child should have that kind of responsibility for. Children need for parents to step up and make a responsible choice as to which parent can provide the most stable home life and leaving this to the children to decide is an invitation for trouble. And what happens when the one parent makes the child angry? Just let him up and move? No, that’s not right.

  • Madelyn Walls June 5th, 2011 at 3:23 PM #11

    @lisa Yes, yes, more yes, and yes. Parents should stay together and get off their high horses for the sake of their children. What happened to sticking together and putting a face on it for the sake of the family??

    Get a divorce once the last child has moved out and can fend for themselves. If it still falls apart, it’ll be obvious to the older and wiser children who the bad guy is and they will be eternally grateful that you waited.

  • mia June 6th, 2011 at 4:33 AM #12

    I am going to have to say that depending on the age and maturity level of the children involved I see no problem with allowing certain children to have a voice in this kind of decision.
    I think that a lot of times in divorce and custody situations the kids feel disregarded and unheard. If you know that this is something that your child can sit down and reason out with you and your ex, then why not allow them to have a say so? Don’t use them as your own personal pawn.

  • KJP June 7th, 2011 at 4:45 AM #13

    Plain and simple, this is not a choice that a child should make.
    They can make all kinds of decisions for themselves but asking them to choose between one parent or the other is not something that most of the are emotionally ready to do.
    And you as a parent also have to think about whether or not you are ready to accept the choice that the child makes if it does not go the way that you are hoping that it will.
    Be sensible,be fair, and work with the ex spouse to make the right decision for everyone involved.

  • Maude Bryce June 9th, 2011 at 12:53 AM #14

    @Madelyn Walls: Except most couples who are ready to go through a divorce are already a wreck and they can’t take it anymore.

    They are incapable of pretending everything’s fine which isn’t a good idea anyway. That just makes the whole situation worse and if they would have been thinking about the kids first, they would have solved their problems ages ago or split up amicably.

    You are not fooling your kid when you “put a face on it”!!! They can feel the negative energy even if you don’t utter a cross word in front of them.

  • bernadette mccabe June 11th, 2011 at 8:58 PM #15

    I think the child should have the final say, because parents– usually the mother–will come up with every single lie in the book to blacken the dad’s name so she can get custody. The legal system when it comes to divorce is already biased against men.

    And I’m saying that having watched both my brothers go through horrendously costly divorces, both financially and emotionally. The only good thing is that they are away from those hellcats.

  • Rowena Fowler June 16th, 2011 at 6:15 PM #16

    @Laurie That’s correct. However when you’re splitting up, they have to go with one of you. I think the best option is to let them know they can arrange to go see the other one whenever they want (assuming it’s a friendly split and there’s no risk to the child in doing so).

    That means they won’t feel they are being forced into a completely life-changing decision right off the bat. They can ease into what’s a very big transition for them then if you maintain a little of that stability.

  • Estelle Webster June 19th, 2011 at 11:49 PM #17

    The children need to be involved in the decision. It concerns them, it’s about them and it’s about their future. To deny them involvement is selfish and you’ll regret it later on.

    Make a rule: if our son/daughter wants to discuss it with either of us in private, they can. If we want to discuss it with him/her in private, we can’t.

    That way neither of you can be accused of influencing them later on.

  • Shendl Tuchman June 24th, 2011 at 8:23 AM #18

    Thanks so much to all of you for commenting on my article. It seems there are many opinions about the decision-making rights of children in a divorce. One problem seems to be the potential for parents to try to influence or appear to be influencing their child. It is difficult when a parent is not “chosen” by their child and it is also difficult for a child to live with the choice they thought they had to make over which parent to live with. As I mentioned in the article, it is my experience when these children become adults that they have to deal with the feelings about choosing one parent over another. It often has a long term impact on their relationship with that parent.

    It is my belief that the job of parents is to make the difficult decisions for their children and to provide an environment that fosters their ability to have an ongoing and healthy relationship with both parents. I understand that this is not always available. However, it is not the child’s job to fix the problem. Very often, children who have this experience become adults who believe it is their job to take care of everyone but themselves.

    Allowing children to have their thoughts heard is important. It matters, though, how that happens. I believe one of the ways this works is to have a neutral mental health professional involved so the child is not concerned, or as concerned, about being disloyal to either parent. Usually children want things to be fair. This is often a difficult thing to accomplish in a situation that is not defined by fairness. But, their voices should have a place even while they do not have to shoulder the burden of making a decision.

    Thanks again for all your comments.

  • Marie Thompson June 27th, 2011 at 9:01 PM #19

    This is a difficult decision to make as a parent, more as a child. But it gives the children a voice. They shouldn’t make the final decision, but their concerns should be heard!!! I wasn’t given a choice, I ended up with my Mom, which was the best situation for me. But being rejected by my father has more negative affects than being involved in this decision.
    Divorve is`devastating on the children, no matter what you do.

  • Georgia Family Rights March 3rd, 2012 at 8:28 AM #20

    I only agree, if the child is of age ( 18 years old, or whatever the age is in GA which is 14) I also agree that it does put a burden on the child if he or she has to choose which parent he or she should be with.. This is only if the child is capable of making such a decision. If they have lived with the Mom for so long, then I think it should continue on like that. Just depends on the situation at the time.

  • Alysia March 27th, 2012 at 7:24 AM #21

    In my case, I do think it would be nice for my son to have a choice. He is 7, he came home last summer and confided in my younger brother that there was drugs at his dad’s house, his brother let him watch pineapple express(movie with a lot of referrence to marijuana), his brother is hiding drugs in a safe between the walls, he was being made to sit and watch porn with his 5 year old neice, and being made to take drags off his older brother’s cigarettes. Not to mention he drew a perfect bong for the police officer, and told him exactly where it was at his father’s house. He clammed up and wouldn’t repeat any of this for child protective services after the police took a report. I think in part to the fact that someone let his dad talk to him after he had told the police, but before we talked to CPS. Now he just keeps saying Dad and ___ (older brother) still have/do drugs. He won’t take it any further than to say that and also that his 5 year old neice harrasses him by repeatedly asking him to have sex with her…
    AND CPS won’t do anything because the statement was not made directly to them. AND HIS FATHER LIVES ACROSS STATE LINES TO FURTHER COMPLICATE THINGS.

    NOW TELL ME WHY MY CHILD SHOULD NOT HAVE A CHOICE WHETHER OR NOT THEY GO INTO THAT ENVIRONMENT?!

  • MrsOzzz April 9th, 2012 at 5:35 PM #22

    Going through this right now, daughter refuses to go, will be third time have gone to court for supervised visits with her dad due to alcoholism, she is now 13 and says ” if he can’t be sober and try to see me more than when the court orders, he doesn’t deserve to”.Last dec she found him passed out in car at 1 in the afternoon, she is disgusted by whole situation. Her step dad is her world has been for 6 years now, so guess you all think she doesn’t have the right to choose, good girl, straight A, Junior Honor Society, ball game starter, couldn’t ask for better daughter, darn right she can use her own mind and choose. Her attorney Ad Litem is on her side.

  • Marie April 16th, 2012 at 10:29 AM #23

    I never got to choose even when my mom was the better parent. It was bad when I has told I would have to live with my dad. To mom and dads out there, don’t (try) not to be all screaming and go crazy I was 11 with no choice and I was freak out all I knew was my mom was screaming saying you’ll never get the kids and woooooowwwww I wanted a choice and now I am 14 and haven’t seen my mom since 12 cuz she is dead. Now I have to stuck with my dad.

  • Geoff May 2nd, 2012 at 10:02 PM #24

    I’m going through this right now. After 3 years of our kids living equal time with both parents following separation and divorce, they want to spend more time living at their mums. It’s sad when you love your kids, want them to spend time with you, and you’re not the parent who initiated the divorce. But there’s not alot one can do when your kids are 15 and 12, except hope that they will come back.

  • Sarah May 12th, 2012 at 2:03 PM #25

    What about great fathers whose children choose them? Why is everyone in constant favor of a mom who feels entitled to her daughter but who doesn’t take the time and effort with to build trust and/or a relationship with. Someone who, for seven years, has consistently made the issue harder for her almost 12 year old.

    What then?

  • Sarah May 12th, 2012 at 2:05 PM #26

    They will. Just give them time right now.

    Have faith in the relationship you’ve built with your children.

  • Don May 17th, 2012 at 8:36 AM #27

    Everyone talks about the best interest of the child, but what they fail to say is that the couple working things out for the sake of their family is what was in the best interest of the child. My wife moved out last November, she now live less than two miles down the road. For the first two weeks my soon to be 13 year old daughter thought it was an adventure living in two places, however soon the luster wore off. My wife kept saying that she would adapt to the new reality, well she didn’t. I finally put my foot down, when I forced her to stay over there and she called me every day in tears begging to come home. My wife has full access to her Mother and we share in taking her to her activities and sporting events. But she wants to force a square peg in a round hole; she wants to force her to spend the night at her place.
    My son on the other had has decided that he wants to live with his Mother, do I like this, no I don’t, but it is what works best for him right now. Should I drag him over to my house to there can be contention, because he does not want to be there.
    So I guess what I’m saying is when a divorce happens it’s like setting a bomb off in the middle of the room and then trying to tell everyone to go on as normal, well nothing is normal. I’m trying to make sense of a situation that makes no sense. Yes they are children, but they are also people with feelings, that are just as valid as anyone else. They are not pawns to be manipulated on a chessboard.
    Let me also just say that I know that there are people with a different situation than my own; I am only making this comment using my own experience as a reference

  • paul June 1st, 2012 at 6:53 AM #28

    Hi i,m going thru this now with my 14yrs twin boys and 11yrs daughter .. until last week they all lived with mum ( we were never married ).
    Last week my daughter of 11yrs decided during an argument to hit 1 of the twin boys with the blade of a knife ( thankfully no injured occured ) but my son decided that he no-longer wanted to live with his mum as his sister was not even told off.
    He called me and asked me to pick him up , i live about 27miles away from them but call everyday and my boys stay over on Saturdays …
    Anyway Jamie no-longer wants to go back as he doent feel safe yet his mum is now making efforts to take me to court to force him to go home , i even had her solicitor shouting at me during a phone say i must take him home . What a joke i,m trying to protect him and this money grabbing things telling me what to do with my son ……….I believe at the age of 14yrs children shud be able to express which parent they would live to live with but without promting .from anyone … else ……..his mum is a control freak instead of saying ok son lets just see how things go and taking a more relaxed approach she is alienatting our son to the point where he would never want to go back unless forced to ….she a wicked woman ..

  • Annabell June 5th, 2012 at 10:15 AM #29

    MY nephew is only 8yrs old and has lived with his grand parents for 2 years. His mother scares him to the point of bed wetting, she is on drugs and is violent. What rights does he have to choose??

  • nicole June 11th, 2012 at 11:23 AM #30

    my step son is 14 and wants to move in with us and says his mom wont allow him to because she will loose her child support money which doesnt even get used for him. how to go about doing something about it

  • Michelle June 11th, 2012 at 5:05 PM #31

    My son is 9 1/2 yes old. I have been divorced from his dad for almost a yr now and we were seperated 1 yr before we divorced. We have 50/50 placement and my son cries EVERY time he has to go to his dads house. He begs me not to make him go but there is nothing I can do. My ex wont communicate with me..he wont even pay for half of my sons medical bill or school lunch money. There is no child support ordered…technically because I make more I would have to pay him. My son is an emotional wreck and has been in counseling for almost 2 yrs. my ex has been asked by the counselor to come to a session and agrees to it but never shows up. Dad doesnt do any homework with my son and his school work is being affected. They had to get him special help. My son had many breakdowns in school because he isnt allowed to talk to me if he is at dads house.. my lil buddy told the counselor that he wants to hurt himself or run away when he has to go to his dads house….I feel so lost and unable to do anything to help him :( I have talked to lawyers and have been told that the courts wont even hear me until the divorce has been final for 2 yrs….what do I do????

  • Shendl Tuchman June 12th, 2012 at 12:20 PM #32

    Thank you all for your willingness to share your personal experiences. I know that it is often frustrating and seems unfair. Sometimes that is just what it is…frustrating and unfair. There are no perfect ways to end a marriage when there are children and problems like drugs, alcohol, etc. There are times when the voices of children are taken into consideration more than other times. And, there is not a one size fits all solution to any of these real life problems. You only have the option of working in the jurisdiction in which you live and hopefully with the help of an attorney you can trust while you keep in mind that the decisions about where children live is best made by the parents or, if that is not possible, by the courts.

  • Unknown July 1st, 2012 at 8:48 AM #33

    I agree! Because what if the child really does wish to live with… say the father but the parents were unsure and were just gonna stick the kid with the mother? That puts greif on the kid and if they would have just asked they would have been able to avoid it. That`s how i see the situation any way…

  • WAYNE July 3rd, 2012 at 5:41 PM #34

    A child that is sent to live with a parent they don’t want to be with will be extremely unhappy. According to the Child support laws teenagers that are sent to live with a parent they don’t want to be with usually ends up running away. You have to consider the child’s relationship with the parent’s new spouse. It doesn’t always turn out like the Brady Bunch. There are evil Stepmothers and Stepfathers.

  • karen July 4th, 2012 at 1:53 PM #35

    How about young children who have never lived with the other parent, though have had lots of contact? My son is nearly 3.
    He loves spending lots of time with his dad, but has always lived with me. I know his dad is edging towards taking him to live with him!

  • karen July 4th, 2012 at 1:57 PM #36

    His dad also has a new woman in his life. She has two young children. They will seem like playmates, so attractive and fun for my son! I feel like I stand no chance! especially as he has the money, and I have none.

  • Kerrie July 5th, 2012 at 7:53 PM #37

    I know in my case, I have 2 step-daughters, age 13 and 15. Their mom has admitted that she only wants the children in her home so she can collect the child support money she gets for them(which unfortunately goes to support her boyfriend who doesn’t work). She has also said to not only my husband but my stepdaughters that they are a burden to her because she can’t do things she wants to because they are there. I could list so many things as to why my 2 stepdaughters don’t want to live with their mom and want to live with my husband and myself. So, why should a judge have the final say in circumstances as this? Their mom has even asked if I would adopt them as my own so she can move out of state with them but backed out when she found out she would lose all the money she gets for them. To her, they are only good to have around to get an extra “paycheck” every month. So, what to do? Should they be forced to live with mom because the court said they have to?

  • Hywel July 11th, 2012 at 10:19 AM #38

    In my Case, I AM the child so ill tell you about my situation im in, i come from a fairly well off middle class family , my parent have been split since i was in Year 4 , im now in year 8 and for all of that time i was always shared equay between the two houses and i was ok with that, i prefered my mum but dont really like her house, i dont realy lke my dad but i love his house (i grew up there) and its hard because my dad now has a gilfriend and my mu is freaking out becuase of it, the divorce isnt settled by the way , my mum still owns part of my dads house and so hates seeing his girlfriend going into tecnically her house , which i understand, but i am fairly quite and i never have howling screaming fit, i bottle it up as most kids do and have always found it hard to manage but quitely so my dads birthday came around and for everyones b-day we ALWAYS go out to a restraunt have a meal and go home , so when we dont and my mum sees dads girlfriend going up to dads house to cook him dinner she freaks out big time , i cool her down and we get home but i am too like her not to know how upset she is, my question is a 13yr old allowed by legal right to choose who he want to be with, i have decided and i want to know in plain english please,
    Thanks, Hywel

  • Alea C. July 15th, 2012 at 10:15 PM #39

    I happen to want to live with my father. My mom has had me for 13 years. She has payed little attention to me. She mainly sits on her computer or is in her room. When we have family things and we try and talk its like she didnt hear. We moved and it makes me very unhappy. Being with my father is fun and he doesnt know me very well. I will be going away soon. So I think its his turn. I think this is a situation where I can decide. I think a child should be where shes the happiest. But they need to consider that just cause the parent is more linient does not mean thats the one you want to live with. I am 13, I have spent a year thinking if living with my dad would be ok, I came up with the conclusion that it is. I love my mom, and know it will hurt her, but living with my dad will make me happy and give me the best advantage in life.

  • Mel July 17th, 2012 at 6:03 AM #40

    As a child at the age of 12, nothing went my way. My parents continued to fight, I would get yelled at for no reason, i had to see a counsolour which basically sided with them and the thing that really tore me down was when my holiday house was sold. Now, i know many people would say ‘ not many people have a holiday house anyway’ but thats not what matters to me. I had that place since i was 3. and suddenly it was ripped away… so that my father could have money to buy a new house. and it was sold ALL behind my back. people told me he did it to make me hapier to not be with oth of them coz they fight… but i know deep down that he did it so he could get away from her… he did it for the benifet of his happiness. And now, of course he has also bought a house (not to far) without me knowing. i have an older brother who is 15 and im absoloutely terrified of the day when we move. Also my mum had to borrow $200,000 dollars from the bank because she needed to pay him because she is keeping the house. i find this unfair because he was the one who made the decision to move out.. and now my mum has to pay him :( when i was young i always wanted to be like this friend of mine, i wanted everything that she had… she was perfect, then her parents divorced and she had no say, she bottled it up and now her mum is getting re-married and she hates the guy, but doesnt wanna tell her mum coz it will upset her :(
    i know everyone says that whats happening with my parents is for the best.. but it sure isnt right!

  • Unknown July 18th, 2012 at 10:32 PM #41

    I believe if they’re level of maturity is strong enough and the behavior of the child is well they should choose. I’d say let them have a say in it at age 13 maybe 14. If I were that age I would want to choose too instead of being miserable. But when the child does choose you must still keep the regular schedule of visits or calls.
    Either way make sure your child is happy, that’s all that matters.

  • alanaTG123 July 22nd, 2012 at 2:48 PM #42

    so my mum and dad got divorced and i am 11 so my mum got a boyfriend moved to england wich sucks cause im from Spain and everything in there ive been to childline and they told me that i can do something about it and i can take it to court so since i ,moved to england ive been searching and puting evidence in wor document from websites that say that im allowed to choose and stuff also information about it ,so i told my mum if i could go to court and she said no im not letting you u have to stay with your mum and i had a massive discussion about it she is being selfish and only thought about her she wants to have me but i want to be happy and if it means not being in england and not being with her then its fine i hate my life there my step dad is an idiot shouts at me and is really horrible . also he is a total stranger to me compared to my dad .so i really think kids should have the right to have an opinion and take a part on something that is afecting them or has something to ndo with them but i also think it has to be considered but also the parent that the kid wants to be with has to be capable to take care of the child and must have good conditions to have the kid.
    so mums dads dont be selfish when you are deciding it take the kids point of view because is their life you are dealing with.

  • Joe July 22nd, 2012 at 3:48 PM #43

    What if I have lived with my mom ever since they got a divorce and my mom always told me how much of a “bad” man my father is but as I got older I see how my own mother is a bad influenc and she was lowing about my dad and I want to live with him so then where do we go from there?

  • Patricia July 23rd, 2012 at 9:00 AM #44

    What about the children who are being abused mentally, verbally but not physically enough to have marks? What about these children who beg to be taken away from the parent who is causing this abuse? The society has sure scared DCS (Dept of Children Services) to take any action and that’s why at times children die. I think those children know what’s in their best interest and beg for someone to help only to have their cry’s unanswered. Most people who have not experience abuse have no idea the devastation that I am speaking of. Those children deserve to speak and to be heard.

  • Chrissy July 29th, 2012 at 12:15 PM #45

    I have two nieces, nine and four. They’re mother parties and sleeps around. Usually with guys who hit her. My oldest niece has witnessed this multiple times. She is extremely controlling and verbally abusive towards my brother. She used to lock herself in the bedroom and tell me to take care of HER kids. He finally got away and is living in Florida now. They’re visiting and having an amazing time. Both my nieces have told everyone they cant wait to live with him. I think even though they are so young, they should be allowed to chose.

  • Brenda August 7th, 2012 at 9:28 PM #46

    my parents have been divorced for 7 years so far im 15 and my brother is 13 and my sister is 8 and we would like to live with my dad but we cant because my mom thinks we have so much frredom at my dads when its not actually like that i love em both but i dont know if living with my dad is good or living with my mom im so confused.

  • Luisa August 14th, 2012 at 5:15 PM #47

    im a 13 year old girl & my parents got divorced when i was 7 years old , my mom decided to come live at utah since march , so because i didnt wanna go to utah i stayed with my dad. & i came to visit my mom & i’ve been here for 2 weeks & now i wanna go home but my mom doesnt let meh.. do i have any right to choose where i want to live?

  • tired of the baloney September 12th, 2012 at 9:34 PM #48

    Kids absolutely should get a say. Especially when the father has a long history of domestic violence, drug dealing, drug abuse, tax evasion, welfare fraud, and is unemployed and living with his momma at 40. So, so tired of hearing all the baloney saying that women are lying. When the truth is that the father beats the crap out of you and still gets unsupervised visits. When the child is scared to death and the court still forces them to go to the father’s there absolutely should be room for the child to be heard. When there has been documented and severe domestic violence father’s shouldn’t even have a say as far as I’m concerned. Enough crap about those wonderful father’s getting screwed tell the truth.

  • Bri M. October 21st, 2012 at 7:43 PM #49

    I know what you’re going through, I live with my mom. We just moved to South Dakota from Iowa City. I am really close to my dad and want to live with him. He still lives in Iowa City. I am not happy here at all. I feel really lonely here and I miss my dad soooooo much! We see him every other weekend but I don’t think that’s enough I just think it’s too long without seeing him. My mom is always angry for some reason. Sometimes if I say something I’m scared she’s going to freak out at me. I told her I want to go live with my dad but she says she’ll miss me too much. Which I really doubt because whenever she gets mad at me
    she tells me to go live with my dad. Me and my dad talked about and he said
    that it is okay with him if I go and live
    with him. I just feel really bad fOr him
    because I know how much he misses
    me and my brother and sister.
    Whenever we go back with my mom it
    looks like he’s about to cry. I really
    miss him.

  • Sha December 7th, 2012 at 9:29 AM #50

    I am a mom who signed over custody because I had a bad depression because during the divorce my mother died. My daughter just turned 12 today and her father had agreed she could come live me. Then he said no. Then we had a meeting again just him and I and her. He agreed and said it was her choice. Every visit she begs me not to take her back. With my son and daughter and his wifes kids its a total of 5 kids which none get along. I am not sure what to do. I can’t afford an attorney right now neither can he. So is it legal to not make her go back. He verbally abuses her, says awful things about me, hurts her emotionally. I am so upset. I need help. I’m in Oklahoma

  • Shendl Tuchman, Psy.D. December 7th, 2012 at 4:52 PM #51

    So many of you have experiences that have been extremely difficult for you and for some continue to be. Please know that while I work on a regular basis, in California, with families that have very similar stories to you, I cannot offer individual advice about what you should or should not do. In many areas, there are services available if you cannot afford an attorney. Unfortunately, that is not true for the places all of you might live. Some of you are children asking for help. If you do not feel you can talk to either of your parents, hopefully there is an adult in your life you can turn to for support.

    Divorce is one of the most difficult experiences for children and adults. For some if feels like a death without someone actually dying. I wish each and everyone of you the ability to get the assistance you need in the states and countries in which you live. In my area, there is an organization called Legal Aid. There may be a Legal Aid or Legal Aid type organization where you live. Please contact them to find out what your options are.

    I wish you all the best.

    Dr. Tuchman

  • Egag December 18th, 2012 at 8:30 PM #52

    I think i should have a say in my family instead of being yelled at by my mom and threatened by my dad about my grades i should be allowed to decide where i live and im 13 its a nightmare with my parents and there not even married never was either.

  • Michele February 10th, 2013 at 11:00 PM #53

    I have a son that I’ve raised since he was 5, he just turned 10 and has been living with his dad and dads girlfriend and her daughter since in South Dakota, I live in Georgia. I only get to see my son every summer. I get one holiday with him, Fourth of July. I haven’t been able to have a birthday party for him, watch him open Christmas presents, in so many years. I know he loves his dad and his dad is good to him but the girlfriend and her teenage daughter not so much. There’s always someone babysitting him because they both work til dinner time. I just feel that’s time I could be with my son helping him with homework and he can be with his brother. He calls me crying because he misses me so much and I have talked to him about the age thing… He said it will be the hardest decision of his life. I totally understand. How can u choose between your mom and dad and u love both?? I want my son back with everything I have in me, but I don’t want to make his mind up for him. I just don’t know what to do I feel like I’m empty inside when he’s gone which is most of the year. He’s my baby. What do I do???

  • Dustin February 11th, 2013 at 3:48 PM #54

    I have a 15 year old daughter that lives with her mom…..well let me rephrase that….she lives with her grandfather….my daughter lives in california and i in rhode island. she had found me after 6 years of not knowing where i am becouse of her mother keeping her from me. my daughter has run away from home twice and is very unhappy living there. her mother cares more about her boyfriend (which her family all thinks hes a db) than taking care of my child. i am hoping that my daughter will go this route and get the ok to come live with me.

  • Shannon February 13th, 2013 at 7:14 PM #55

    Call the police poor thing

  • Jane April 7th, 2013 at 4:46 PM #56

    It really bothers me to read people saying that the courts favor men. This is far from the truth! And if you actually had any personal knowledge, you would know that! Not you heard, or your man told you he got screwed… PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE! I have gone through the worst nightmare of my life with an abusive man who made the kids and I suffer for over three years. No support because he kept on adjourning our trial date… kept everything in our house, kept our house,, repoed my car. Gave me nothing! My children are 13, 10 & 4. And the older two have feelings, they have EYES. They have seen everything and have been through it all. I recently have made the decision to move away from our small town to better support us and find some peace in my life. My children ( the older two ) have decided to come. I will now have to go back to court and fight him yet again. For the people out there that believe that children shouldnt have a say as to where they live… YOU ARE WRONG!I was a stay at home mother for over 10 years and supported my husband in his business. To now be forced to work min wage with teenagers. Borrow money off of everyone I know.. And you think that kids dont know this? GIVE YOUR HEAD A SHAKE! AND COMMENT ON THINGS YOU ACTUALLY KNOW ABOUT !!!!! But hey, he’s such a nice guy… poor him !! anyone care about the kids?

  • Howard green April 14th, 2013 at 2:34 PM #57

    my son lives with his mother and step father, my son is now ten. The last to weekend dropping my son off to catch a taxu home he has broe down and cried. this weekend he said he felt sick inside, he told me that his step father told him to tell me that he does not want to see me any more and if he dont he will kick him out on the streetlike his brother and sister.For some reason his mom is trashing his room and when he reyurns home she searches his pockets.THIS MAN AS KICED OUT HER CHILDREN FROM HER PREVIOUS MARIEG and abuse was given to both her children, Her children over six years ago also her mother sister and brother all hated me– understand able family stick together yes;now allof her family are behind me her two sons and daughter, mother ,sister and brother, she will have nothing to do with them now; Im worried about my son around this step father who cant step up to the mark, he now has two children of his own and favours them more and leaves my son out, sends him to his room, not allowed to have a phone or even to ring me, they say he can have these things when he is 18 years old; he his playing with my sons mind; thats not right; he just wants his own kids in his life, has proved by getting rid of her two sons and daughter; my son his ten now and he his doing this to a childs mind;; I WILL END UP GOING IN THERE AND————-YOU SHOULD KNOW WHAT I MEAN, PLEASE HELP ME HELP MY SON FROM THIS TORCHER FROM HIS STEP FATHER; My son loves his mom but hates this man.

  • Jane June 10th, 2013 at 4:30 PM #58

    To the above father with his son being treated badly at the mother and step father. I think you should go to court and see if there can be something done to help your child. This kind of thing is upsetting because you don’t want to cause problems. I tried to stay away from that and things got so bad with my daughter’s father that we all fell apart and then he ended up taking my girls. I should have gone to court in the beginning but was afraid of him. Now she doesn’t even have me anymore. I am fighting to get them back but its best to do something before things get worse. Just advice from someone who just kept hoping it would get better and made a mistake by not actively going after the problem!Hope it gets better for your child. They need both parents unless there is abuse then it should be a whole different story!

  • notyourbuisness July 4th, 2013 at 7:40 PM #59

    I am tired of people saying that the FATHER is abusive or that the MOTHER lies…Really i mean cmon guys it can happen both ways its just that those labels(labels are stupid)are attached to the parent because that is what generally the gender that does that happens when one of the parents has

  • Johnthreewood July 30th, 2013 at 9:27 AM #60

    I think that most of us may (maybe not) agree that parents should “put aside” their differences, work for their “child’s best interest”, and put the child “first”. I also feel very strongly that children are children, and are not fully capable of making such decisions. They certainly are prone to being emotional, impulsive, and making bad choices as teens. The one think that comes to mind here is high conflict parents or parents who cannot easily see the “high road” because they truly believe that the best interest is for the child to live with them. Many times this is due to their belief that the other parent is simply a less healthy choice. They may very well both believe this. This is why I believe that the child’s wishes should be taken with extreme caution, if at all, in many cases.

  • CS Geier September 15th, 2013 at 11:32 AM #61

    I know FOR A FACT that in Georgia, a child of 14 CAN choose and their choice IS CONTROLLING unless the parent of choice can be deemed UNFIT by the court. I do have an attorney, Tom Camp of Athens, Ga, and my daughter just signed the papers to submit to the judge.

  • troubled 13 October 2nd, 2013 at 9:24 PM #62

    Okay well i hope one of you reads this and helps me /: I’m 13 years old and going to be 14 in March i was looking into this because i feel like crap when I’m with my mom yes she provides most of the stuff then my dad but at least he respects me. When I’m with her and i get in trouble she hits me or curses at me I’ve tried calling the police but she doesnt hit me as hard to show evidence so of course they don’t believe me.i wanna go live with my dad . I see him almost every weekend but its hard because we live in another town about 30miles from him and it’s hard for him cause my mom moved us out here like out of no where telling no one except my aunt. Also I’m scared to tell the judge i wanna live with my dad because my mom might hit me.another thing I’m scared of is the judge saying my dad cant take care of me and my little brother financially . Can anybody help me with this? I’d really appreciate it. Thank you .

  • Isobel January 10th, 2014 at 11:55 AM #63

    I live with both of my parents for different days of the week. My mom might be moving to a different country and I want to go with her. My dad won’t let me go with her though. He scares me sometimes and often hits me. When will I be old enough to choose which one to go with if I’m 12 right now?

  • Isobel January 10th, 2014 at 12:04 PM #64

    I for got to mention that my dad’s girlfriend is awful. She treats me like I’m 2 because her kids are really little. She is so mean to me and my mom. If I wear shorts to school and it isn’t really hot out she blames my mom. I can’t stand being around her.

  • Richman January 21st, 2014 at 12:43 PM #65

    It’s a reality that there are some bad, immature parents out there who should not have had kids in the first place. Forcing kids to live with one bad biological parent as a result of some arbitrary Court rule, is idiotic. If there is any sign bad behavior by or both parents, the Judge should order a full psych exam of both parents before assigning custody. This approach would save years of aggravation for the children and help clear the Courts of pointless motions.

  • heather March 17th, 2014 at 8:58 AM #66

    i have a 9yr old that is very unhappy when he has to go to his dads house. when he is at his dads he calls me about 20times or more wanting to come home. he cries everytime he has to go to his dads.his dad dont do anything with him by his self. all he does is drink beer every weekend when goes there or goes out to the bar and leaves him with his 12yr old sister. so i think he should be aloud to choose to live with me if he is that unhappy and dont like going there. he said mommy can i choose when to go to my dads? i said no and he got treally upset with me. i hate seeing my vchild hurting and unhappy.

  • marie March 18th, 2014 at 4:25 PM #67

    I’m in the same situation and everything that you’ve said there is the same thing happening to me and I understand you badly , but in just a little younger than you are though, and I only turned 12, 2 months ago , and it all started since I was 9.

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