At What Age Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With?

boy running to his dad
Many divorced and divorcing parents wonder if there is a magic age at which children are allowed to decide which parent they want to live with. The fact is that, in the State of Texas, that magic age is 18 – the age at which children can make decisions as adults. Once your child reaches the age of 12, you can request that the court consider his or her preferences, but this may not have any bearing on how the court rules. If you have concerns related to child custody, reach out to an experienced Williamson County divorce attorney today.
If you're preparing to divorce in Texas, read these four things you should know.

Upon Reaching the Age of 12

If one of your children has reached the age of 12, either you or the child’s other parent can request that the judge interview him or her regarding custody, and the judge will do so. The judge will not necessarily be swayed, however, by your child’s preferences or requests. Ultimately, the court bases every decision that relates to children on their own best interests, and any input the children provide may or may not be useful from the court’s perspective.

Upon Reaching the Age of 18

If one of your children has reached the age of 18, it is up to him or her if he or she wants to continue with a court-ordered visitation schedule. At 18, young adults have the right to make adult decisions like these for themselves, and this is true even if child support continues past your child’s 18th birthday (until high school graduation, for example). If your 18-year-old no longer wants to have overnights with his or her other parent (according to the existing parenting plan), you are not obliged to make him or her do so. If your child has not yet reached the age of 18, however, you must adhere to the parenting plan that is in place (or seek a modification if you have a compelling reason for doing so).

The Factors that Go into Determining Custody

In Texas, the court will take wide-ranging factors into consideration when making decisions related to your child custody arrangements. While your children’s ages and preferences (if they are old enough to weigh in) are two such factors, others include:

  • The relationship each of your children has with you and with their other parent

  • The relationship between you and your children’s other parent

  • Your children’s emotional, developmental, and health needs, including any special needs that may apply

  • Your financial situation and living situation as compared to those of your children’s other parent

  • Your health status and the health status of your kids’ other parent

  • Any history of abuse or neglect

Seek the Legal Counsel of an Experienced Williamson County Divorce Attorney

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Williamson County is a compassionate divorce attorney who is committed to helping you obtain custody terms that support your parental rights and that work for your family. To learn more, please do not wait to contact us online or call us at 254-501-4040 today.

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