Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With?

Divorce proceedings involving children necessitate a delicate balance, ensuring the child’s well-being while honouring the Family Law Act’s intent. The act emphasises a child’s right to maintain a meaningful relationship with both parents. However, the definition of ‘meaningful’ can vary based on individual family circumstances.

While separated parents might sometimes concur on parenting arrangements, they must always prioritise the child’s best interests. For instance, frequent changes in residence can unsettle children, necessitating longer duration stays as a solution.

One recurring query among parents is the age at which children can express their preferences about their living arrangements. 

The courts, however, don’t set a fixed age. Instead, they consider multiple factors:

  • The child’s maturity level.
  • The child’s grasp of the situation and the decision’s implications.
  • Whether the child’s opinion is influenced by a parent.

Often, trained family consultants or psychologists assess these aspects after extensive interactions with the child.

Courts are generally reluctant to let children bear the weight of such decisions. Their choices can be clouded by the apprehension of upsetting a parent. Consequently, a child’s desires become one among several considerations in determining living arrangements.

However, as children age, their preferences carry more weight. For older children adamant about not seeing a particular parent, enforcing visits becomes a challenge.

For those parents navigating these complexities, consider your child’s wishes, especially as they grow older. But always remember that multiple factors shape the best arrangement for their welfare.

For those in harmonious co-parenting scenarios, consulting a child psychologist or family report writer can offer invaluable insights. A child-inclusive mediation, assisted by a family report writer, can help discern the best way forward.

After mutual agreement on a child’s living arrangement, we recommend sealing the decision with Consent Orders filed at the Family Court, providing clarity and assurance for the future.

If you’re grappling with such decisions and need expert advice, seeking a child custody lawyer or booking a family law consultation free of charge might be your best next step.


  1. At what age can a child decide which parent to live with?

   The courts don’t set a specific age. Instead, they evaluate the child’s maturity, understanding of the situation, and potential parental influences.

  1. How are a child’s wishes assessed in court?

   Typically, a trained family consultant or psychologist evaluates the child after spending considerable time interacting with them.

  1. What’s the importance of Consent Orders after deciding on a child’s living arrangement?

   Consent Orders filed with the Family Court offer clarity and security, ensuring that the agreed-upon arrangements are binding and provide consistency for the child’s future.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Always consult with a legal professional for tailored guidance.
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