Often, children of divorced or unmarried parents find themselves asking the question, “Can I choose to live with my dad at 12?” The answer depends on what state you live in, but the short answer is – no, not unless both your parents agree to let you live with your dad when you’re 12.
Hope is not lost, however, as most states will at least let you voice your opinion on where you want to live, even if the judge does not ultimately decide to let you live where you desire.
The courts will look at factors such as what is in your best interest as a child and which parent can take the best care of you, not just where you want to go.
Let’s take a closer look.
Can a 12 Year Old Decide Which Parent to Live with in Georgia?
In Georgia, a child aged 14 or older has the right to choose the parent they wish to live with.
However, for a 12-year-old, the court will generally consider their preference, but it’s not binding.
The judge will still make a decision based on what they believe is in the child’s best interest.
Can a 13 Year Old Decide Who They Want to Live With?
At the age of 13, most states allow a child to express a preference about which parent they wish to live with (including Georgia), but the court will not necessarily grant their wish.
The child’s maturity level, the reason for their preference, and the overall environment each parent can provide will be factors the court considers.
I Want to Live with My Dad Instead of My Mom – What Do I Do?
If a child wants to live with their father instead of their mother, it’s crucial that they communicate their feelings honestly and respectfully.
It may be beneficial to involve a neutral third party, like a counselor or family law attorney, to facilitate this conversation.
The child’s preference will be taken into account, but the ultimate decision lies with the court.
How Do I Live with My Dad?
To live with your dad, you must first express your desire to both of your parents.
If both parents agree, they can modify the custody agreement of the court to allow you to live with your dad full time.
But if there’s disagreement between your parents, you may need to go to court where a judge will consider your preference along with other factors to determine what’s in your best interest.
Since you are a minor child, you cannot bring a custody action on your own behalf. One of your parents will need to bring it before the court – usually the parent you want to live with – and ask the court to change the custody and living situation formally for you to be able to live with them.
This is not a quick process, and in some cases, you won’t be able to go to court unless a certain amount of time has passed under the last custody order, or unless you are in actual physical harm or danger.
At What Age Can a Child Refuse to See a Parent?
While the specific age can vary by state, generally, a child cannot legally refuse to see a parent until they are 18 years old.
Before then, visitation rights are determined by the court, and a child is legally required to follow the court-ordered custody agreement.
That being said, most courts do recognize that, as a child grows older and is even able to drive, they may choose to not spend time with either parent as much as it says in the custody order.
But still, legally, if you are a minor child and have not been emancipated, you still must go and see your parent – unless you are in actual physical danger or harm.
At What Age Can a Child Refuse to See a Parent in Georgia?
In Georgia, a child can’t legally refuse to see a parent until they turn 18, like we discussed above.
However, once a child reaches 14, their preference for which parent they wish to live with will be given considerable weight by the court, though it’s not the only factor considered.
While a 12-year-old may express their preference to live with one parent over the other, the final decision is typically made by the court based on the child’s best interests.
It’s always advisable to have open, honest conversations with all parties involved and, when necessary, seek the counsel of a family law attorney.