Adjusting to a divorce is difficult for everyone, especially children. When parents divorce, kids must deal with major life changes that they can not choose or control.
Sometimes, the child expresses a preference about which parent he or she would prefer to live or spend time with. However, the child’s preferences may not align with what the court deems to be in his or her best interest.
At what age can your child decide where to live?
Some states identify a specific age at which a child can express a preference about his or her living arrangement and the court must take it into account. However, Pennsylvania does not. Instead, the law states that the court should consider “the well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child’s maturity and judgment.”
This is only one factor for the court to consider. Even if the court deems the child mature enough to express a preference, there are other things to take into account. The child does not have the final say.
Can your child refuse visitation?
When your child does not want to go with your ex for scheduled visitation, honoring your child’s wishes might feel like the right thing to do. However, this is a mistake that can have legal consequences.
If your child’s safety is at risk, you can file an emergency custody petition. Otherwise, your custody arrangement is a legally binding order. Violating it can result in contempt charges and may give your ex grounds to modify the order.
It is normal for children to struggle with life changes beyond their control. When determining custody, the court may consider your child’s feelings, but the final decision will depend on what is in your child’s best interest.