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Can a Child Pick Which Parent They Want to Live With?

When parents go through a child custody case, they will likely have several concerns about the process. A common concern is whether or not their child can pick which parent they want to live with. However, the answer is a little complicated.

The Court’s Stance on a Child’s Preference

When a court makes their decision in a custody case, they consider various factors. Among those is a child’s preference. In California, a child’s preference can be defined through the following:

  • Which parent the child wants to live with.

  • How clearly the child states their choice.

  • The age at which the child can make a well-informed and sound decision.


Regarding the child’s age, the court will allow the child to state their decision in court if they are above the age of fourteen-years-old. If they are under the age of fourteen, the court will have to decide if the child’s mental capacity and emotional maturity are high enough to state a well-informed decision.


In California’s Family Code, the court will consider giving weight to a child’s preference if they believe the child has the mental capacity to make a decision based on logic and reason. Although the court will consider the child’s choice, they do not base their final decision on it.


Instead, the court will ensure that their decision is in the best interest of the child. If the child’s choice would be detrimental to their mental and physical health and safety, the court will not abide by the child’s wishes. Additionally, in some cases, the court may find that the child was pressured or motivated by one parent to choose them in court. If this is brought to the court’s attention, it will impact their decision as well.

The Law Office of Michael R. Young Can Help

A child custody case can be difficult for all parties involved. For parents, knowing that their child’s preference could be a potential deciding factor in the court’s decision, can make the situation even more difficult to process. To ensure that your child’s interest is the top priority, contact the Law Office of Michael R. Young. We will do everything in our power to protect you and your family’s rights during your child custody case.


Call the Law Office of Michael R. Young at (909) 315-4588 to speak about your child custody case.