GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (ABC 4)- When parents get divorced, one of the biggest questions that needs to be answered is what happened to the children. Which parent will they live with? In Michigan, the law states that children do not get to choose which parent they will live with, and this is true up to age 18. There are always clients who come to my office having turned to Google or friends with the same Google knowledge who report that their child is 14 and can pick which household they want to live in. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
In reality, children in divorce can merely express a preference on which parent to spend more time with but that preference is not the end of the inquiry. Instead, the court merely takes it into consideration along with all of the other reasons it assesses to determine what is best for the child. As it relates to the age of the child, there is no hard and fast rule on what age a child is able to express their preference to the court.
In general, the child must be able to articulate who they would like to live with and why. Simply saying “I like mommy more” is not enough – the child must explain their reasons for wanting to live with one parent over the other. The preference of older children may make more of an impact on the court than younger children but that is really a case specific inquiry. What you should know though is that attempting to influence your child’s preference could backfire. Most judge’s are highly skilled to recognize when a child has been coached and from a legal perspective engaging in that type of behavior will likely cause more trouble that it is worth.
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