How old does a child have to be to make a decision on asking her full custody grandmother to adopt her

Adoption age of consent

Child's age and child custody preferences

Recently on our forum we had a user ask, "At what age can my child decide what parent they want to live with following a divorce?"

Regardless of age, a child has no legal right to choose where they wish to reside. Although the decision of what parent a child wishes to live with seems important, a child is a minor and is not able to make a legally binding decision regarding their custody.

Does this mean that the child's opinion will be totally disregarded? No, it simply means that state laws vary, and there is not a magical age when a child can make a custodial arrangement decision.

Court makes decisions based on the best interests of the child

States have decided that all custody decisions will be made after determining what is in the best interest of the child. So while there is no specific age when a child can decide who they want to live with, a child's preference is one of several factors the court will use to make their decision.

Additionally, in some states the judge will have almost limitless latitude in deciding whether he will listen to a child's preference and how much importance to place on the child's opinion. So while the judge may consider their preference, they are more likely to review other factors about the family's situation.

Older children may have a greater impact on the court

With all that said, however, most family lawyers will tell you that courts will place a higher consideration on the child's opinion if the child is older. For instance, if you divorce and your child is sixteen years old and says they want to live with one parent the court understands that forcing them to live with a parent they do not want to live with is likely to create greater issues. For this reason they will weigh a sixteen year old's opinion more heavily than a five year old's.

The court will also recognize that the needs of a young child may change as they age. For this reason the court may also be willing to modify child custody agreements to accommodate these changes.

What will the judge consider?

When reviewing the preferences of a child to live with a particular parent or grandparent the court will review the following:

1. How stable is the home where the child wants to move?
2. Why do they want the change?
3. Is the grandparent or parent capable of providing care for the child?
4. How mature is the child socially and emotionally?
5. Does the child seem to understand the changes of the modification?
6. If the child wishes to live with the grandparents is the decision supported by both of the parents?
7. Is the move the child requests against the wishes of either of the parents?
8. Is there any evidence that the child has been pressured or bribed to request the move?
9. Will the move separate them from other siblings?
10. Can the child clearly articulate want they want and the reasons for the change?

Talk to a family lawyer for more information about modifying a child custody order.

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