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what age can kids choose who they live with?

(4 Posts)
mopsera Sun 07-Oct-12 07:11:41

...and how does it work?/ have you had experience of this ( my tot is only 2.5) this would be in a situation with no residency order or any 'legal' contact set-up. i assume its 14-16 ish?

Ninjacat Sun 07-Oct-12 07:40:13

If it's done through the courts it's about 12 but depends on the child.
Cafcass are the childs representative. They may assess both homes/parents and talk to the child alone then give their account in court.

STIDW Sun 07-Oct-12 10:11:14

Every case is different. Children's views are considered in light of their age and maturity. Court orders for residence or contact normally end when a child reaches 16 when they are deemed mature enough to make their own decision unless the child is immature say because they have learning difficulties. A 16 year old can decide not to live with either parent!

Before 16 years of age children's preferences are seen in context of the family background and the rationale behind the child's opinion. A teenager might say they would prefer to change residence because the other parent is very permissive and would let they stay out late at night and drink when clearly it would be in the interests of the child to stay with the other parent if they are more authoritative.

Young children can't understand the implications of a decision and coercion, persuasion and even force might be used appropriately in everyday parenting eg changing nappies, getting toddlers to eat, to dress, to have their teeth cleaned, to be innoculated or accept medication or hospital treatment, to not run in front of that bus, not to be cruel to the pet, not stick fingers in electric plugs, to have to go to nursery or school or hospital (and be left and even restrained while weeping and wailing for a parent), to physically stop a child who is beating up another child in the playground, to do homework or tidy rooms or else get no pocket money or social time etc etc etc. 

Having said that even pre-school a child's perception is a consideration. There is a well known shared residence case when a 4 or 5 year old boy's perception that he lived he two homes was taken into account. On the other hand an order was made for the change of residence of a 11 year old boy and a 14 year old girl against their wishes. The age of 12 is just a general indication, the nearer a child gets to 16 the more weight is given to their preferences.

Although children's views are important it is ultimately adults who are responsible the decisions, either parents or if they can't agree the courts. Loving parents might consult children about moving house or changing school but it is the parents who weigh up all the pros and cons to arrive at a decision. Children shouldn't feel they have to choose between parents. When they do they tend to carry an enormous burden of guilt for a long time.

Ninjacat Sun 07-Oct-12 16:25:03

Sorry I should have said that just because a chulds views are taken into consideration it doesn't mean any ruling would just go along with the childs wishes regardless. There are so many varying factors.
STIDW says it all really though.

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