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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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  • 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.


  • 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.

  • Chris April 18th, 2014 at 2:11 PM #68

    We’ll I have a situation where I’m 14 and my dad is having financial problems, but all my life I’ve had to struggle, that’s not the problem, I have a little sister that lives with my mom and she doesn’t have many people in her life and I wanna be in it, also my mom isn’t the best but she has back problems and I don’t know if It would be a possibility for me to live with my mom, I love my dad but I just don’t wanna be there, can anyone help me?

  • Chris April 18th, 2014 at 2:13 PM #69

    Also I don’t want to hurt my dad but he took me away from her, she lives like 40-50 miles away and I see her only like 1 every 1-2 months

  • Graeme May 9th, 2014 at 4:53 PM #70

    I know what you mean. I know how it feels and right now I hate her

  • Diamond May 17th, 2014 at 7:18 AM #71

    Hi, my name is diamond. Im 16 years old. My Dad is not around he is very sick. And my mom is just a mess. She is stuck on her boyfriends and chooses them over me. So I just don’t have anyone but my grandparents. My mom is soon to be moving to Atlanta Georgia and she says I’m leaving with her. This is her second time trying this. It’s my junior year in high school and I refuse to go. My grandparents are the ones who takes care of me anyways so I don’t see What’s her big argument. She doesn’t do anything for me and she is very selfish. I dont know what to do. Help!

  • MzJacksonCO June 9th, 2014 at 1:08 PM #72

    Everyone has wonderful ideas, about this subject, however if I must be honest to let a child decide which parent to stay with is a problem egg waiting to hatch. I mean let’s be honest, most young adults(Pre-teens) or even teenagers would opt to stay with the parent that has less to NO rules. But is it fair to let them make that decision knowing that in today’s society for our young men, discipline, structure and rules are needed to keep them from Gangs, Jail, Cemetery!!! I am in the process of this very situation and let me tell you all something, I have had full custody of my children their whole lives, and I let them spend a year with their dad, and now when it is time for them to come home, the dad say’s, well I think the oldest is old enough to choose. And I am thinking to myself, He is not even old enough to keep up with his house keys. He has lost 10 in the last year. But at Dad’s no Discipline no chores, hard work, no respect, and yes dad will let girls come over and do God knows what. I will not allow my 14 year old, even if that is the age in Colorado make a decision that could alter his future in a major way just so that he does not have to clean his room, or the kitchen and bathroom. I will not back down, or give up. I will not let my Young men fall by the wayside because their dad may have hurt feelings. As soon as he can get together and come up with reasonable support we can do a joint custody thing. but until that time My boy are right where they need to be. Thanks

  • Katelynn June 16th, 2014 at 12:53 PM #73

    My dad and step mom fight a lot, and my mom is dead. Do I have the choice to move in with my aunt? I’m 15 years old.

  • Charday June 24th, 2014 at 5:00 AM #74

    I am 16 years old my mother has a significant other whom she has been with since I was four. Besides that this man is very negative towards me and I wish to live with my biological father. How can this be arranged?

  • KaShanda June 27th, 2014 at 4:31 PM #75

    I’m 14 years old and I live with my dad (step mom and half sister). I have a mother that has (boyfriend and 5 boys 9-4). I have the right to pick where I live but, if I live with one I have to visit the other. For example, I live my dad so I am forced to visit my mother ever summer, fall, winter, and spring break. My mother is not a good mother. For example, she drinks all the time. One New Years left me surrounded by drunk people, yells, abuse me, full on hits me, makes me babysit, clean I mean full on clean house and everything, threatens me, smokes, and I have depression and an issue where I have gotten to many points wanting to kill my self so I don’t have to see her face. I have talk to a therapist and she says that it ain’t good for me to live or visit down at my mothers. I need to get out of here and stay happy with my dad. I need help, any advice ?

  • GoodTherapy.org Support Team June 28th, 2014 at 10:28 AM #76

    Thank you for your comment, KaShanda. We wanted to provide links to some resources that may be relevant to you here. We have more information about what to do in a crisis at http://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html

    Warm regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Dr. Shendl Tuchman June 28th, 2014 at 2:44 PM #77

    In the three years since I wrote this, I have received a number of emails from adults and children. The children have asked in many ways how to live with the parent they want to live with and not with the parent they are living with. Or how to avoid visiting the parent they do not want to see.

    This is a difficult and involved process that appears to be different depending on where someone lives, how old he/she is, the particulars of their family, etc. I am very sorry that it is not possible to address the questions in a way that says, there is a way to have what you want, please follow these steps.

    However, it is important to talk to adults in your family (both the parent who you want to live with and the parent you do not wish to live with or see). You may want to ask for assistance from other adults you trust to help you have the difficult conversations. Most important is to let someone you know, know about your feelings. The people who make the decisions about you, however, are your parents.

    If you are feelings suicidal or in any way needing some emotional intervention, please contact the organizations in the post sent by Goodtherapy.org. It is very important that you do not try to figure things out all on your own. This is true whether you are a child or an adult when you have overwhelming feelings. At the very least, you can ask a teacher for some help as they are often aware of services that exist in your community that might be able to help you.

  • KAYLA89 July 1st, 2014 at 2:58 PM #78

    So, I need some advice. Just to tell you a little about myself before you make assumptions… I am a 25 year old, no children, two college degrees; played college softball for my first four years. I am a Respiratory Therapist. I moved away from my family for college and actiully ended up staying in the state I went to school at. I am a recently engaged young women. We have been together two years; moved in with one another after a year. Things are great. With that being said… My soon to be husband has a child, he is 6 (will be 7 in october of this year). I love this little guy as if he was my own. We go to the park, read books, ride bikes, we do it all. My soon to be step-son’s mother and my fiance, Kyle, were together about three months and she ended up pregnant. I have been told by many others that she got pregnant on purpose, it’s like she picked randon person to get pregnant by, etc. I’ve heard it all. Kyle stayed with her half way through her pregnancy and decided to leave because she was lazy,” as he calls it. Which from what I’ve seen, she doesn’t work for months at a time, when she does work she it’s only part time, lives on section 8, and her parents still pay for majority of her livings. She is 30 (kyle is 31). They went to court last summer, 2013, because she wanted to up Kyle’s child support to $500/month. It went from being $350 to $500. the day she quit her job is the day she went to DHS for a child support re-advise. She also put in their custody papers that I am not allowed to pick up their son from school, day care, etc. Anywhere… makes things harder on us because Kyle goes to work at 6am and I work twelve hour shifts so I’m usually at work by 6:30am. On my days off, I would have to drive 12 minutes out of town to take his son to the grandparents, then they owuld drive back into town to take him to school. Ok, before any mothers judge… I understand not wanting some other women or anyone else driving their child around, especially their only child. I get that. But. at the time, I had been around for a little over a year on a consecutive basis. things get so frustrating sometimes… She is very controlling. For instance, I asked her to get their son to go to the water park. It was my day off so I took him and my friends other three kids. (I didn’t tell everyone that I worked in a day care with 6months-grade school children all through my high school years and I get my nephew who his my fiances sons same age for three weeks in the summer). Everything was fine. I picked him up from camp early and we went. We had a blast too! So, later that evening I said “hey is it cool to get him again next week, we had a lot of fun and he enjoyed it.” Of course, she never responded. Three days prior to the next water park trip I text her again, no response. So, the day before I text her, “hey I’ll be by around 10:30 if it’s okay to still get him. If I need to come earlier I will. She KEPT insiting on her droping him off ot me at noon! NO!!!! I had all this planned. He had a tball game that night so we were going from 11-3:30ish. Last time we stayed until 5 and bless his heart he was wore out! His mother kept on and on and on about noon. She said “if an hour makes that big of a difference then that’s ridiculous, I won’t make plans with you again.” I had my plans already and told her a week before… Needless to say we didn’t go. That really bothered me as wel. I sent her a message later that night: “It really bothered my that you made it hard for me to get Ryder (that’s the boys name) today. I told you for a week then a few days prior and you insisted on noon. (By the way she didn’t work that day and they stayed at home). I am just someone from the outside looking in but you kind of make it hard for anyone to get ryder. We ask to get him and you always throw in a comment like “we will see how the weather is.” Usually someone knows how the weather is going to be Jessica. Instead, you could say yes sure that’s fine or no maybe another time. You especially make it hard for Kyle because you always want to be in control and have to know every little detail, down to the T. Ryder has never been in harms way over here so it’s okay to just go with the flow sometimes. Ryder is getting older and is going to need his dad. He is a growing young boy. Him and his dad are starting to form a bond and they both need that.” There’s more to the text but that’s just the jist of it. Needless ot say she didn’t like that… the response I got back was “Don’t ever ask to get Ryder again. Don’t call me unless it’s an emergency. We will go back to square one where Kyle get’s his son when he’s suppose to and no extras with you.”

    There has been many other issues and things come up but this is the most recent one…She text me one day and asked if I could get Ryder a pumpkin for school and color it pink for breast cancer awareness week. Sure, love to. She proceeds to tell me make sure you don’t get ink on his shirt and make sure he washes off the paint on his hands. Really…. :-/

    I give up!!! Her and I have had our issues and my mother reminds me of the phrase “kill them with kindness.” And I do but it’s so frustrating whenever she is controlling and makes things hard. I love Kyle and Ryder to death and I’m not leaving. I’m here for the long run. This is my first marriage and I’m from south Texas, we say I do til death do us part! Anyone have any advice???

  • KAYLA89 July 1st, 2014 at 3:04 PM #79

    And to add to this… After we get married next labor day, 2015, we are taking her back to court to have the child custody papers re-advised. We don’t think it’s right to pay her $500/month when she only works maybe 6 months of the year (and that’s the year she get’s to claim him on his taxes). We were thinking about asking to get Ryder every other week. So she has him a week then we have him for a week. She refuses to give Kyle joint. I know you can’t put a price tag on a child and we don’t. We explain to Ryder that money doesn’t grow on trees, you have to work for it, etc. Kyle and I both have great careers and explain to Ryder that you have to have some kind of goal/career if you want nice things in life. His mother is not a bad mom, she takes care of him but all I am wanting is things to be fair, share the expenses. My parents divorced after 15 years and neither one paid child support. We went to moms when we wanted and dads when we wanted. Of course, they didn’t let us use them against one another, even though we tried! They were cival.

  • Anon July 3rd, 2014 at 5:06 PM #80

    I have a 7 year old daughter that lives with her dad, because the courts said she should live there when I moved to oxford. The courts said that if I wanted to move with my daughter then I would have to provided an address and school placement and doctors and dentists. When I did all of these things they then favoured her father in court saying that I had pre emptied the decision before it had been made. As I had secured a house and new job I had no choice but to move. Now I have to see my daughter once a month. I have done this now for a year it’s not easy and I miss her terribly every day. I hope she won’t hate me for moving when she’s older. There doesn’t seem to be many other mothers living without there daughters out there. Why did the court do this I still can’t understand. I am not a bad mother!

  • devastatedMom July 5th, 2014 at 7:49 AM #81

    Faithful wife, stay-at-home-mom, endured husband’s alcoholism for 10+ years and fought for a sober husband/father (2 sons). Sobriety came at a price, which I paid dearly. As he struggled through his AA steps- a deep and searching moral inventory- the secrets of his childhood incest, his adultery in our marriage (incl. adultery with his brother’s wife) and his activity in porn shops with other men (I was sickened beyond describing)which happened while our sons were young. I tried to be understanding. I forgave. I asked for time to heal. But because I wasn’t in the bed with him… I just couldn’t, I needed time to get through it all, to heal. Two weeks was too long for him. He had a new woman on the hook, thought it appropriate to introduce her and her young son to our own 2 sons, and go Christmas shopping/do lunch altogether… we weren’t even divorced yet. And just prior to the start of this mess, my ex inherited six figures when an elderly friend of his died. I think it was a huge factor in him leaving me.

    Messy divorce. He alienated older son from me and the effects ruined our Mom/son relationship. I learned about verbal/emotional abuse, set my boundaries, relocated out-of-state with my younger son to a life with my own family, all the while enduring ex’s verbal/emotional abuse via text messages (we have to communicate for visitation, etc. and he always ends up attacking me). Early on, I increased my boundaries and had to limit how he communicated with me (text messages only,) to save my own well-being and peace.

    A year later now, my 16.5 yr. old son tells me he doesn’t really like his new, bigger school, misses his friends, dad, brother, and said he’s happier back ‘home’. He wants to go live with his dad. I’m crushed beyond anything. I’m sickened at how this will effect me. I feel so abandoned and betrayed, three times over. The Betrayer/Abuser ex is rewarded… and I’m left alone. Feels like my years of faithfulness, repeated forgiving and giving up establishing a career to be a stay-at-home mom were all for nothing.

    My older son rarely calls/texts me. I try monthly with texts, letting him know how much he means to me, etc. I feel as though I’ll die inside if my younger son leaves. I won’t be able to bring myself to ask for my ex’s cooperation re: visits, when all he’s done is make it difficult and beyond miserable for me when I tried doing the same to make sure my younger son got to go see him. My ex chose not to cooperate, attacked at every chance he could, and missed Spring and Christmas visitation- what his reason was, I don’t know. My son has no ill feelings toward him about that.

    Last night, my son said he’s been ‘alienated’ from his dad for four years. That’s not the case at all! He said here, he’s a little fish in a big pond, but if he goes back with his dad, he gets to be a big fish in a little pond. And that ‘his’ truck ‘will be put in his name soon enough’. I don’t wonder whose words these really are. I’m not the one with plenty of money, four-wheelers, hunting guns, or trucks to give away.

    Why does my abusive ex, whose core of integrity, honor, honesty, morals and values lacks so greatly, win the loyalty, respect and privelage of being the parent to live with and raise our sons, while I’m abandoned? Life can be so unfair, so cruel. I hope my son changes his mind and stays with me.

  • arianna July 12th, 2014 at 9:21 AM #82

    I am a 14 year old girl, and i have lived with my grandparents for about 12 years. I havent seen my mother for over 12 years, but i really miss her. My grandparents took me away from her because they claimed she was an “Unfit Mother.” But they never proved her to be “unfit”, and now my grandparents are trying to adopt me, but i want to live with my mom….and i have reasons why i would like to live with my mom…will i have a say-so in court on who i want to live with? can you please help me and give me some answers?

  • arianna July 12th, 2014 at 10:48 AM #83

    My name is Arianna. I am 14 years old. When i was about 2-4 years old and my sister about 1-2 months old, we were taken away from our mom, by our grandparents on our fathers side. They said she was “unfit” to raise my sister and i. We have been living with them since then. We really miss our mother, but every time we’d ask about her, they’d tell us negative stuff. I recently came in contact with her over social media about 3 years or so ago. I was asking her many questions on why she left us, and why she only decided to keep our brother and give us up. She was very confused on what i awas talking about. She told me that we were taken away from her, and everytime she tried to come see us, the cops were called and they denied her to come near us. I was dumbfounded about all of this. I was so mad and upset about it all. I never confronted my grandparents about it, because they aren’t the “sit down talk too type” and theyll get mad. So i kept it to myself. But they found out i was talking to her, and they took my phone and tablet, to keep me from talking to her. But that didnt stop me. I used my friends phones , and tablets so i can communicate with my mother. I didnt understand why they didnt want me to talk to her, i mean i thought i had a right too, afterall that is my mother. About a year later, i was sexually violated by my father and i didnt want to tell my grandparents because im not comfortable sharing anything with them, so i told my mother. She reported it and everything. But when Child Protective Services came out to question me about it, my grandparents acted all shocked and everything. They pretended to care. But when they left, i was being judged, and questioned. They yelled at me for not telling them about it. They didnt care about their son sexually violating me at all, they only cared about me telling my mom anything before i tell them. I havent talked to them about anything since. I feel i cannot speak what is on my mind, or how i feel about anything without being judged. They’ve called me names, threatened me, and everything. So i keep to myself like ive always done. Just recently , about a few days ago, my grandfather found out he had over 125,000 dollars floating around, but he cant get it without adopting us. He’s filled out the paper work and stuff online, and now we’re waiting for it to process. I honestly dont want to be here anymore, and i have told my mother i want to live with her, and she has aggreed that she wants me and my sister back. But i havent told my grandparents that when the judge asks me to choose between my grandparents or my mother, i am going to choose my mother. I am terrified of them and what they’ll say. Do you have any advice for me?

  • Kalie July 13th, 2014 at 4:36 PM #84

    I’m a child of divorced parents. I’m 14 an chose to live my dad. My mom has jumped man to man and she has let y sister run wild and my brothers mainly live at the babysitters. I think I made the right deviation. Recently my dad has changed he has become angrier and more controlling. He almost never let’s me go any where and if I do I have to clean almost the entire house to do so. I have become so close to my aunt it’s unbelievable. He understands me and cares about me. I wish I could live with her. Is there anyway that I could choose to live with my aunt??

  • anon July 13th, 2014 at 5:39 PM #85

    I am having almost the same issues. I to am a woman whose daughter was ripped away from her by the father. If you would like to talk plz email me.

  • kat July 15th, 2014 at 12:06 AM #86

    We should talk. Abusive exhusband who didn’t work for 7 yrs I did. Blessed with a boy and girl 12 and 9. Haven’t went to court have joint custody but he keeps them . He lot our two and a new baby with his woman. Now they are humiliating me and slandering me on Facebook. When can my children choose to love with me.

  • Emily July 15th, 2014 at 12:14 AM #87

    Hey I am a 14 year old girl and I really want to live with my dad. My mum moved me and my two sisters from England to Australia when I was 8. My dad fought for is not to move but sadly lost. It’s been 5 years now and I’ve grown up away from my dad and entire family. Jobs are easier to get in Australia and when I’m a adult I will probably live in Australia to get one. I feel that I should go live with my dad and family to re connect as I’ve become distant over the years and that is not what I want. I am a very family loving person. I love my mum but I feel I can’t be myself around her and my sisters as they are quiet judgemental. I really want to live with my dad and see my family for these last years before being stuck in Australia to benefit my future I also want to discover who I really am in this critical age of self discovery away from the pressure of my mum and two sisters. My biggest problem is how do I tell my mum this without breaking her heart and feeling like I don’t love her, she still has both my sisters and my dad has lost all his daughters for a very long time. I’m scared that if I do this it could be a bad decision but I don’t want to not say anything and be stuck here always wondering what if? Y’know what do I say? Should I take a chance and be really happy? Could I always move back if it’s truly the wrong choice? Please help me I’ve had this thought for a long time now

  • Anonymous July 16th, 2014 at 7:37 PM #88

    I don’t get why you all are saying that. It really does depend on the circumstances. When I was in 4th grade, I was told that we were not choosing which parent to live with but rather the schedule of how we would go back and forth. After a while, going back and forth was a hassle for me and was the root of fights between my mother and I. When I was in fourth grade, I knew I wanted to stay in one place but my parents didn’t agree. It went on for years until I turned 15. My mother and I continuously fought mostly because she expected me, as the older child, to take on everything that my dad didn’t do while he was there. I virtually became her personal maid/punching bag. Verbally not physically. I moved in with my dad and I can honestly say I have ten times less stress and I don’t cry myself to sleep anymore so reading your comments is really upsetting because you don’t know me or any other child out there going through this.

  • Katie July 16th, 2014 at 7:54 PM #89

    Your mom will always love you my best advise to you is just explain to her she might not agree to it but she will understand. I’m going through the exact same thing right now I want to live with my dad and my mom wants me to move with her to Texas but all my family is here (Indiana). I was scared too but I just explained to her what I wanted and she might not agree with it but she loves me. So I think you should talk to her she’ll understand and maybe you could make a deal like I’ll live with dad for this amount of time and I don’t like it I’ll move back but if I do like it I’ll stay but over the summer and vacation I’ll see you. I hope my advise helps.

  • Katie July 16th, 2014 at 8:03 PM #90

    You might I know in Indiana at 14 you can only state your opinion and then they may use some of it but I wish you the best of luck hope that helps a little

  • Katie July 16th, 2014 at 8:09 PM #91

    Well if you get to decide, see if your dad can full custody and just remember you might not like your mom but you always have to love her she’s your mom I hope I helped I wish all the best

  • Rian July 17th, 2014 at 3:07 AM #92

    If both parents are abusive, then you can opt to live with your aunt. If your aunt is closer to a school you’d like to be in you can try that approach. It all depends on the details of the situation.
    In the abusive situation (it doesn’t sound like it is but in case), you would have to speak to your aunt about it and see if she could be an advocate for you so you could change custody.
    In the school (or relared) situation, you can tell your parents that you want to think about furthering your education or life style and hope they understand and come to a mutual agreement that that would be best for your future.
    Good luck!

  • Rian July 17th, 2014 at 3:18 AM #93

    That isn’t the point of the law and I think you lack trust in your child. The judge checks to see if it is about that or about how they’re treated/the relationship with the parent. Not every teenager would say “Dad because I don’t have to sweep the floor”. Teenagers are more mature then you might think especially when reasoning about situations like this is taught in school/churches/programs all around the world.

  • dottie July 17th, 2014 at 6:16 PM #94

    this scenario sounds exactly like me! I was divorced in 2001 and we had joint custody Of two sons. my ex is so controlling it was so manipulative and Cheated every chance he got. in 2008 my oldest son Lived with his dad because his dad was so Manipulative & controlling and I had rules. He alienated me from my son. I got sole custody of youngest son cuz judgevssid dad was controlling. Now my youngest us 16 in football snd GPA 3.68. MY EX PETITIONED for cudtody son said cuz i yell too mych to pick up his clothes. My heart is broke and ex vlauns verbal/emotiobal abuse whuch is nonsense. He is doing same thing he dud with oldesy son. I hope judge sees the truth. Other judge wrote in papers that dadd motive was to control wife wnd children now ex tryingbto get emergency order based on abuse. My son cried his eyes out when his dad haf him hand me papers that he git out of mail. I got them 11 days after postmark. his dad encouraged him to lie to me about skipping football

  • Anon July 17th, 2014 at 6:51 PM #95

    I’m 14 years old and I would like my dad to have complete custody of me. I want him to have complete custody because I cannot stand living with my mother any longer. We fight constantly, and it’s only been getting worse. She also fights with my dad every day. She has hit me on more than one occasion and threatens me constantly (sometimes she threatens to hit me other times she threatens to sell the house or something like that). I cry my self to sleep everyday, and I experience a lot of stress which causes me anxiety. I also believe that my father has developed depression because all my mother does is yell at him and fight. I want to move out of the house and find an apartment with my dad, but I want it to be legal. I want him to have complete custody and for my mom to pay child support. I’m very scared that if we go to court, they’ll make me stay with my mom because my dad isn’t exactly rich. All he has is his retirement, SS check (which totals to around $600) and food stamps (which total around $120). I was thinking we could live with my god mother for a bit (she has an empty apartment). Please give me some advice

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team July 18th, 2014 at 9:35 AM #96

    Thank you for your comment, Anon. We wanted to provide links to some resources that may be relevant to you here. We have more information about what to do in a crisis at http://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html

    Warm regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Kale July 18th, 2014 at 2:28 PM #97

    I’m a 15 year old boy and I hate how my mom had to leave from back home to come live over here in Arizona, I want to know if the older I am will I be able to go live my dad. I had visited him and he is the definition of a father he’s went to my summer games in Texas when I was there and my mother never does that and never supports my interests. All she cares about is herself and about my sister. I never feel like over here and all of my cousins live over there and I just love it over there I feel more secure. But my dad and mom get paid monthly and my dad has went to jail for child support. But my mom is saying she will win cause she has a boyfriend and then if you add it up she makes more money cause they both get paid monthly. I just wanna be with my dad and she always says that he is never there for me and now he wants me to live over there and now that he’s trying to be a real father she refuses. So I just wanted to know will court help? And how long does it take for a court date to be scheduled?

  • K July 19th, 2014 at 4:59 AM #98

    Dear GoodTherapy.org Team:

    I received an email from my 10 year old son this morning, who is visiting his father out of state for the summer. His email stated that he would like to live with his father. I am having a hard time. I don’t want to be selfish, but at the same time, I am having those feelings. His father left us very early on and eventually came back only to leave again. His father says that even though our marriage/life together didn’t work, he still wants to be a father to his son. We live over 800 miles a part, as he moved there when he initially left. Though difficult at times, we have made it work with arranging visits and times to connect outside of the summer month stays. I thought this was very important and fought hard and long to help him see how important it is for him to be in his son’s life on a regular basis. Spending summers/holidays, etc. with his father and scheduling visits for the two of them and living with me during the school year has been the case for the majority of his 10-year life. I do recognize my son needs his father and that he is growing into the stage where he needs his father to be present and available as he transitions into his teen years. But at the same time, it’s so very hard. It’s been me and him all this time and although I understand my son and ex’s desire to be together, I am not sure if the timing is right. I am not saying no. I think I am just saying not right now…

  • Justin July 23rd, 2014 at 2:06 PM #99

    I have a 9 year old son. He came to me and said he wanted to live with me.. Because 1) “mom has had me for nine yrs and I think you should get time with me too”, and 2) her drinking is out of control… I asked him, “how do you know can you tell the difference between drunk mom and mom who has only had 1 or 2 beers?” He said,”yes she is definitely drunk when she can’t make it up my stairs…” I recently brought up the drinking to her and she of course denies all of it. Oh yeah and the smoking weed around him or in the same house as him… I tried to reason with her make it easy for everyone. But she wants to try court instead. Do I have a legitimate case what if my son clams up what then? All I know is that a 9 year old should not have to be around that!

  • christy July 25th, 2014 at 4:55 AM #100

    need advice my daughters fathers live in girlfriend has told my 13 year old daughter with out laying a finger in u I can make your life a living hell because my daughter did her chores and they weren’t up to her standereds she did tell her father because she thinks he will say she is lieing we share joint custody how do I get residencal custody because of the verbal abuse she is induring at the hands of her fathers girl friend she has a 15 year old son my daughter has witnessed her smacking him across the face please help

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