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Does your child’s wish about custody determine where they live?

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2022 | Family law

Most parent-child relationships go through a series of ups and downs. There will be times when you have an incredible relationship with your child and times when they are distant from you or closer with their other parent.

As an Indiana parent contemplating divorce or a separation from the other parent of your child, you probably feel that the preservation of your relationship with your child is the most important consideration. If your relationship with your child is not in the best place right now, you may worry that they won’t want to stay with you.

Does your child’s preference determine the outcome of custody matters in Indiana?

Your child’s wishes do matter

If children were fully capable of making choices about their own lives, they wouldn’t need the guidance of a guardian. Someone’s decision-making abilities aren’t fully mature until well after legal adulthood, so the typical child isn’t able to make choices that truly reflect their own best interests.

As such, judges will usually only strongly consider a child’s preferences when they are over the age of 14 and sufficiently mature. Even then, a judge may decide that the child’s preferences stem from an unreasonable basis, like a desire to spend more time with the parent who engages in less discipline because they like playing video games so much.

Unless the child presents a very convincing case for not wanting to spend time with one parent, a judge will usually expect some degree of shared custody even when teenagers would prefer to spend most or all of their time with one parent.

You don’t have to put your kid in that situation

For many children, needing to make a public statement about their custody preferences is one of the most damaging parts of a divorce. You don’t have to put your child through that stress even if they are already in high school.

You and their other parent can cooperate with one another to create a parenting arrangement that you both agree is functional and appropriate. If you move forward with uncontested custody proceedings, there will be no risk of your child feeling like they have to make an impossible choice and possibly harm the relationship they have with one of their parents. Learning more about the rules that help resolve Indiana custody disputes can help parents planning for shared custody arrangements.