Myth: My child can decide at age 12, 14, or 16 which parent they want to live with. They are old enough to make up their mind and the court should listen to what they say.

Truth: In Washington, a child under 18 does not get to decide where they want to live – that is a parental decision and if the parents cannot agree, the court decides. But if the parents cannot agree, a parenting evaluator or a guardian ad litem may be appointed to investigate and make recommendations to the court. 

Parenting evaluators and guardians are professionals and they will talk to both parents and to the child. If the child expresses a wish to live with one parent over the other, the investigator will determine if the child is being unduly influenced by one parent. Once a child is 18, they are legally an adult and the court no longer has the power to say where the child will live.

Can't Reach a Child Custody Agreement? Let Molly Help

I debunk other divorce myths in our free eBook, 9 Urban Myths about Divorce That Can Hurt You.

The court may consider the child's wishes, but will make decisions in the child's best interests. If you cannot come to an agreement with your ex-spouse, I can help. Call 425-460-0550 or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington
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