When Can A Child Choose Which Parent To Live With

I_want_youYour child gets to pick the parent they live with in Michigan when they reach the age of 18. That’s when they are considered legal adults and no longer under the jurisdiction of the family law court. Think about it and it will make sense. Your child is not allowed to pick the school they go to, what doctor they see, or what they have for dinner but now they get to pick who has custody? That would cause chaos. As soon as Mom took away their ipod or grounded them, the kid would snap their fingers and declare that Dad now has custody.

In determining child custody in Michigan, the court must consider twelve best interest factors.  One of the factors is factor (i) which is reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference. It doesn’t have a specific age. It is really up to the judge.  Even if the judge considers the child’s preference, that choice does not determine the outcome.

Typically when it is appropriate to listen to a child, the judge will meet with the child in chambers for a private meeting. This is sometimes called an in camera interview. The judge doesn’t typically take testimony. On other occasions, the judge may have the Friend of the Court do the interview. The interviews in Wayne County, Michigan can be done by the Referee or the Family Counseling Unit. Every judge has their own procedures. It is the very rare case where a child actually takes the witness stand.

Quick practice pointer: Do not bring your child to speak to the judge unless you are specifically told to do so by the court. Every once in a while, a parent brings a kid to court because they feel they should have a voice in the matter. Do not do it. It makes the parent look irresponsible and manipulative. I don’t care how mature you think your child is. It’s a really bad idea.

Here are some ages that have some significance under Michigan law for minors. While none of these apply in custody or parenting time issues,  it’s possible these feed the confusion.

  • A minor can nominate a guardian at the age of 14.
  • A child can go to court to ask a judge for an order emancipating them from their parents at the age of 16.
  • A 17 year old will be prosecuted as an adult if charged with a crime.
  • Over 14 years of age, a child cannot be adopted unless they consent.
  • A 16 year old may ask for a parental consent waiver for an abortion.
  • A 16  year old may also drop out of school.

Ready to talk? Contact us and set up an appointment. Give us a call  at  313-291-0240.

Chris McAvoy is a Taylor, Michigan family law attorney who helps people with bankruptcy,  family law,  and  estate  planning.  To find out more or set  up an  appointment, click here   for  contact info. Our attorneys help  people in Taylor, Allen Park,  Southgate,  Lincoln  Park, Riverview, Trenton, Flat  Rock,  Wyandotte, Brownstown,  Belleville,  Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, and  the  Downriver,  Michigan  area.

 

 

 

About Christopher McAvoy

I've been a lawyer since 1997 and I've seen a lot. We should talk. Not only do I have a lot of the answers, I will share them with you so you can make up your own mind. Chris McAvoy is a Taylor, Michigan attorney who helps people with bankruptcy, family law, and estate planning. To find out more or set up an appointment, click here for contact info. Our attorneys help people in Taylor, Allen Park, Southgate, Lincoln Park, Riverview, Trenton, Flat Rock, Wyandotte, Brownstown, Belleville, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, and the Downriver, Michigan area.

Comments

  1. Hello-
    My brother has a PPO against him by his wife. It is all lies.
    His lawyer has told him that the judge, Judge Noe will not ever overturn a PPO. Ever, for any reason.
    My brother wants to fight it and have it dropped, amended or whatever.
    I feel that a judge needs to be objective and judge each case on its own.
    What is your feeling ?
    Thank you.

  2. Hello,
    I am almost 17 years old and my parents are divorced. My father lives a good 45 minutes away from my mothers. Where my mother lives I also go to school and work. My parents custody time is split in the middle of the week and it is becoming harder for me to go to my fathers house. I was wondering, at what age would I be able to decide which house I stay at?

    • You can decide when you turn 18. Talk to your parents and see if they can work together to come up with a better schedule for you. Just be honest with them and explain how hard it is for you. Good luck.

  3. concerned parent says:

    Hello I am in concern for my stepson he is almost 17 and he has been wanting to live with myself and his father … Not because he don’t like his mom or her girlfriend but because he needs his dad… He has been asking for over 5 years now… An his mom keeps telling him that he can’t choose.. I honestly believe the boy needs his dad in his life not two woman .. He is at the age where he needs that MALE figure… What can I do to help him???? If he can choose to quit school at 16 why can’t he choose to live with us… ??? I was 12 when i chose to live with my dad…

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