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Can a Minor Choose Which Parent They Want to Live With?

There is a simple answer to the question of whether minors can choose which parent they want to live with, and it is no, they can’t. Not until a child turns 18 does he or she have the legal capacity to make this decision on his or her own. It’s not quite this simple, however, because once a child turns 14, the court will take his or her reasonable preferences on the matter into consideration. If you are facing concerns related to parental responsibility and parenting time (previously called child custody), don’t wait to consult with an experienced Illinois divorce attorney. 

The Court’s Position

When the court becomes involved in making decisions regarding your parenting time and parental responsibility, it is motivated by the best interests of the children involved. Because it is generally agreed that children are better off when they are able to spend a considerable amount of time with both parents, the court attempts to maximize the time children spend with each parent. In its effort to decipher the best interests of the children involved, the court takes a variety of factors into careful consideration, including:

  • How each child is adjusting to his or her current school
  • Each child’s physical and mental health
  • The degree to which each parent participates in his or her children’s lives
  • The distance the parents live from one another
  • Each child’s reasonable preferences on the matter

In other words, the child’s preference can play a role, but the matter of who the child lives with will not be based solely on this preference. One of the primary roles a parent fulfills is making important decisions on behalf of his or her children, and deferring entirely to a child’s preferences bypasses the reasoning behind turning to the decisions of mature parents in the first place.

At the Age of 14

If a child has reached the age of 14 and if the court deems the child mature enough to weigh in on the matter, the judge is likely to take the child’s preferences into consideration regarding which parent he or she would like to live with. Because a child’s preferences can play a role in his or her best interests, the court is not likely to ignore them or cut them out entirely. If the judge involved believes the child’s preferences are not in his or her best interests or if the judge suspects that the child’s preferences are the result of being emotionally manipulated by a parent, the court has the absolute right to override the child’s preferences (regardless of his or her age). 

You Need an Experienced Illinois Divorce Attorney on Your Side

Concerns related to parental responsibility and parenting time are often the most emotionally fraught divorce issues. The trusted Illinois divorce attorneys at Arami Law recognize how difficult these matters can be and have the compassion and legal skill to help. Your case is important, so please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information today.

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