What surprises most parents, is the fact that there is no set age in the Family Law Act whereby a child can decide which parent they want to live with, in the circumstances that the parents are disputing about who the child should live with. 

This is despite our societal understanding that by the time children become teenagers, they can decide what they'd like to do with their lives. What happens instead is the older a child gets, the more weight is given to their preference. Generally, judges and lawyers have concluded that once a child reaches the age of 12 to 13, the weight that goes to their views increases substantially, and only gets higher as they get older. For example if a child who is 12 years old says they want to live primarily with mom, the court will add some weight to that evidence. However if a child who's 15 says they want to live primarily with mom, the court will add even more weight to that evidence. By the age of 16, it is usually regarded that a judge would consider a 16-year-old's views about where they'd like to live fairly paramount, yet that is not the only deciding factor.

It's important to remember that a child's views is only one factor to consider when deciding what is in the best interest of a child. For children younger than teenagers, there are several processes that can be considered to add more weight to a young child's views. One of these processes includes a report done by a credit child psychologist or a clinical counselor. This report can be entered into evidence for the court. 

Shea Chorney is a CBM Associate specializing predominantly in family law with additional support to the estate and civil litigation practice groups. Reach out to Shea or contact us today!