Child Custody

questions & answers

Question: My 13yo daughter keeps asking me what age she can choose which parent to live with? I'm the non custodial parent(my ex wife has custody). We are very cordial with each other but I know it would break her heart if our daughter leaves to live with me? I know my daughter is unhappy at home. So what age can she choose? How do I change the custodial arrangements?

Answer: There is no specific age where a child is considered mature enough to decide which parent he or she wants to live with.  There are very mature 13 year olds and very immature kids of that age.  The court's standard for deciding custody (legal decision making) is
"the best interests of the child."  The court looks at a number of factors in making its decision.  Best interests of the child is determined after "a proper and orderly hearing of the issue of custody with all interested parties having a right and opportunity to be present and produce evidence." Pridgeon v. Superior Court, 134 Ariz. 177, 180-182 (1982).  Judges know that kids are easily influenced and want to look at the whole picture.  Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 25-403 sets out all the factors the judge must consider.  The wishes of the child are just one of the 11 factors considered.

QUESTIONS

  • My 13yo daughter keeps asking me what age she can choose which parent to live with? I'm the non custodial parent(my ex wife has custody). We are very cordial with each other but I know it would break her heart if our daughter leaves to live with me? I know my daughter is unhappy at home. So what age can she choose? How do I change the custodial arrangements?

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