What is the Legal Age in California a Child Can Decide Which Parent to Live With?


Our daughter is 16 years old and is a pretty bright girl.  She’s always felt more comfortable staying with me.  What is the legal age a child has to become to be able to decide which parent they’d rather stay with and have custody over them in California?



In certain states, there is a certain/minimum age which a judge will consider the child’s wishes.  However, the divorce laws in California do not provide a specific age at which a child may choose which parent they wish to live with.  The State of California can appoint an attorney for the child, which is referred to as “Minor’s Counsel”.  This can be done at the request of either parent.  Their job is to represent the best interests of the child and not any one particular parent.  The counsel will meet with the minor child and interview him or her and present these facts to the court at a hearing.

Another option is to take advantage of the free custody mediation services offered by the court system.  During this mediation, the child can express directly what their preferences are and why they choose to live with one parent over the other.

Regardless as to the outcome of either option outlined above, it is the duty and responsibility of both parents to decide the best parenting plan for the child.  Once your daughter reaches the age of 18, she can decide on her own where she wants to live.

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