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can a 11 year old legaly decide what parent he wants to live with?(12 Posts)
my partner has an 11 year old son and he wants to come and live with his dad but we are not sure if he will be able to, would he be able to say in court that he wants to come and live here? and will they listen to him? he is nearly 12 and just wants to be with his dad.
Hi there. As far as I understand it at 11, a child is deemed competent enought to decide where they want to live. This is in line with the Gillick Competency Test. A CAFCASS officer will likely be appointed by the court to find out what the child wants and will put this across in a report to the court.
Bear in mind that courts will expect the child to have the chance of a meaningful relationship with both parents.
I think 11 would be incredibly young to be judged Gillick Competent - it would be far more usual for a very intelligent, articulate 14 or 15 year old.
Having said that, at 11 his opinion would be listened to and taken into account, but the decision would be made by using the Children Act to determine what would be best for him. They might look at whether he would have to change schools, how his relationship with his mother would be affected, if he understands the implications of his choice.
Your partner may wish to contact Families Need Fathers - they're very good.
Agree with BabyB and balia. If I were him I'd apply to the court, but not before speaking to the mother and seeing if she'd agree. Also worthwhile is trying mediation. He'd have to give it a go before he applies to court anyway.
Most Relate family Counsellors would consider most children of 10 to be Gillick Competent and would be willing to take up the argument in court if needs be. They would speak with the child first to make sure that they understand why they were speaking to a counsellor and that it was their wish to do so.
Does you DSS spend any nights with you? could you not approach his mum and ask if you could have more? he would be expected to stay at his mums some nights anyway as part of having a meaningful relationship.
Also check what the reasons he wants to stay with you instead of mum? my DSS spends three nights with us and four with his mum, when annoyed with his mum he wants to spend more with us and when annoyed with his dad he says hes not coming back here either (he's 13 though), you don't want to start the ball rolling for court to find out that he wants to live with you because he doesn't like his mum nagging over homework and you guys don't etc.
Captain Bluebear, why do you consider that the court would be using Relate rather than Cafcass? Do you have a different local practice?
As far as I'm aware there is no standard definition of Gillick competency. It was just said that a parents authority to make decisions aren't absolute and in certain circumstances children's views or consent should prevail if the child is mature enough to understand the implications of their decision.
Loving parents will ask their children for opinions and consider them in light of the family circumstances and make decisions with the children's best interests at heart. However it would be a foolish parent who allows children to make the decisions. A parent might ask a child's view about moving house or changing school but the parent ultimately has the final say. Children of separated parents often say things they think a parent wants to hear.
A counsellor's job is to listen sympathetically rather than give opinions which is different from a CAFCASS. A CAFCASS officer's job is to listen to the children and their reasoning in light of all the factors in a welfare checklist and recommend a way forward in the absence of any agreement between parents as to the best interests of the child. For example, a teenager might express preference to live with a permissive parent who sets no boundaries and allows them to stay put late drinking every night when clearly living with a more authoritative parent who sets some guidance would be in the interests of the child's welfare.
Has your partner's son indicated why he wants to live with his dad? Children balance the pros and cons and come to decisions in much the same way as adults. Sometimes children align with one parent and reject the other only to later change their mind. It isn't unheard of for young teenagers of separated parents to miss the parent with the minority of care and want to go and live with them only to change their mind a year or so later because they miss the other parent. The problem with that is the child is focusing on spending time with parents at a stage when the focus should be on beginning to become independent of parents and developing relationships with their peers.
I'm with areyoumad on this one... how often do you see him or have him to stay? Does he come on holiday with you? is it just because his Mum asks him to tidy his room?
My 15 year old DD often says she wants to live with her Dad because he lets her do exactly what she wants... doesn't mind if she drinks... and as he only sees he occasionally, never has to ask her to tidy her room or do her homework...
I'd start by suggesting he stays an extra night and see how that goes...
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No, I'm afraid you can't choose. It is not your choice until you are a few years older. If your mum tried to get the court to let you go and live with her the judge would listen to your wish to live with your mum but would decide what they thought was best for you and your siblings. If the judge thinks you are best off staying with your dad then I'm afraid the court would not let you go and live with your mum.
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