Determining a custody schedule comes with many challenges, and one thing that can make the custody process especially difficult is when a child says they want to live only with a certain parent.
There is a common misconception that when a child reaches a certain age, they can decide which parent they want to live with. This is not entirely true.
What Michigan law says on the issue
Michigan custody judges examine several different factors when making custody decisions. One of these factors is the preference of the child.
Therefore, although your child’s preferences are considered, so are several other factors. Additionally, your child’s age plays a role in how much weight their preference is given.
There is no set age at which a child’s preference becomes a bigger consideration, but usually, the younger they are, the less their wishes will be considered. Older children are typically better able to communicate what they want and have a better understanding of the situation.
Why your custody history matters
When a child expresses a desire to live with one parent, a custody judge may sometimes review any previous statements made by the child and look for any inconsistencies.
For example, if a 16-year-old child tells a judge they want to live with their father, but every time the parents were in custody court previously the child wanted to live with their mother, this could be a troubling sign.
Listen to your child, but do not influence them
If your child tells you that they want the custody schedule changed, it is best to not immediately head to court to try to get the schedule changed. Talk to your child about what they want and why, but do not push them into making a certain decision.
Judges are always on the lookout for signs that a child’s preference is based on threats or influence by a parent. A better idea is to talk with a professional and get some advice on your situation.