At What Age Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With?
September 24, 2013

The Age of The Child – Harrisburg Child Custody


At What Age Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With?I’m often asked by clients in Harrisburg custody cases “At What Age Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With?”  Or I hear comments from a client such as “when my daughter is 12 she can decide who she wants to live with.”

My client are often surprised, and even sometimes disappointed when I tell them that there is no set age in Pennsylvania for when their child can decide where to live – in fact, the age when a child has the right to decide for themselves is really 18.  However, that doesn’t mean that children’s wishes are not taken into consideration.

Factors in Deciding Harrisburg Custody Cases

In Pennsylvania, the custody law lists 15 different factors the court will consider when deciding a custody case.  One of the factors is the “well -reasoned preference of the child”.  But how much the court will take the preference into consideration is mostly based on the child’s age and maturity.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to talking with a child in a custody action but here are some things to think about.  How old is your child?  Generally, the older the child the more weight the court will give to the child’s preference.  Are they able to tell you their reasons for their preference?

For example – if the reason they would rather live with one parent over another is because he or she has no rules and gets to watch TV all day, the child’s preference is not going to be given a lot of weight regardless of how old the child might be.

When you are dealing with a child custody matter, the custody schedule will change over time based on the needs of the child and issues that tend to surface between parents from time to time.

Therefore, deciding how involved your child is in the custody process, and deciding how much weight their preference will be given is a decision that needs to be made based on the circumstances of your situation at any given time and its something that should be discussed with your attorney before deciding what you should do.

Contact DZMM for Help

If you have questions about child custody, contact the Harrisburg child custody lawyers of Daley, Zucker, Meilton and Miner at 717-724-9821.

We will help you understand the issues that the judge will examine when it comes to custody of your children.

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