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Experience:  Dip Law LPAB - Sydney based lawyer
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We live in Queensland, and I was wondering at what age/if any,

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We live in Queensland, and I was wondering at what age/if any, a child can chose which parent has full custodial rights. To sum up our situation, my partners kids live with us full time and we look after 90% of their expenses. Although the custody arrangements are agreed at 70%, 30% their mother does not fulfil her custodial obligations, and recently chose to live 2 1/2 hours away from Brisbane (and her boys) - she works in the mines so she could have moved here. When the youngest turns 15 we were hoping to move back to NZ, where their father is from, with both boys (the oldest is nearly 15) but as their mother will probably refuse to let us leave, I wanted to know if he could chose who had custody when he was 15.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Australia Law
Expert:  replied 1 year ago.
Hello and thank you for your question.

Until children are 18 years of age they have no absolute right to choose who they live with, though it would be fair to say the court gives their preferences more weight as their preferences become based on more mature reasoning, and courts will rarely force children to stay with a parent if they have strong reasons for not wanting to spend time with them.

From what you have said there is nothing to indicate the youngest has any particular reason to decide to stay solely with you, so I am not convinced you have a compelling case if you were to assert that the son really doesn't want to stay with his mother.

However, the fact the mother has moved 2 and a half hours away, and does not fulfill her existing custodial relationships suggests the relationship is rather part time at any rate. In these circumstances there may be good prospects of having a court let you relocate if you can demonstrate there are real advantages for the children in doing so (such as greater extended family support, educational opportunities, overall family economic benefits, etc) as when considering such an application, the courts will generally decide such matters based on the best interests of the child.

In assessing the best interests of the children, the court has to weigh the pros and cons of allowing the move, and normally the biggest concern of the court is the damage a move would have on the children's relationship with the other parent, however, where the other parent moves a considerable distance away and is not maintaining a high level of physical contact a court will not be so concerned about this issue. So the fact that she has moved away really does open the door to a favourable outcome should you apply for orders for a relocation.

Naturally, only a fully briefed lawyer, familiar with the details of the current custodial arrangements and the pros and cons of such a move with respect to the children, can give you firm advice, but if you are keen to make the move then on the face of it you may have good prospects of being allowed to relocate by the court.

I trust the above assists.

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Thank you and good luck.

Patrick
Patrick H., Lawyer
Category: Australia Law
Satisfied Customers: 4603
Experience: Dip Law LPAB - Sydney based lawyer
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