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Can a child decide where to live after divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2021 | Child Custody, Divorce

Deciding how you will share time with your children after divorce is never easy. Aside from the financial and logistical aspects at play, there are considerable emotional factors involved.

One thing you may consider is asking your child where they want to live. Yet, this might not always be best.

At what age can children decide where they want to live after divorce?

There is no set age at which an Illinois judge will allow a child a say in which parent has custody of them. State code says that when considering physical custody, a court must consider: “The wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to decision making.”

Yet, even if a court considers the child meets those requirements, it is only one of many factors the court must consider when deciding what is in a child’s best interests.

Why might you hesitate before asking your child about their preferences?

Some children have firm wishes about which parent they prefer to be around the most. Others do not. In both cases, they may be afraid to express their opinions for fear of upsetting you or their other parent.

If you decide to ask your children what arrangements they prefer, be sure you can take their answers without getting upset. A preference to spend more time with the other parent does not equate to rejecting you. Your child may have many reasons for their choice. For example, staying in the same house might allow them to see more of their friends. Perhaps they feel you are always busy at work or that the other parent would suffer more without them.

An honest discussion can help you all come to custody arrangements that work for everyone. Yet, as the adults in the room, you must understand that you are the ones changing your child’s life, and you are the ones that are responsible for doing what is best for them.