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Leon
Leon, Solicitor
Category: Australia Law
Satisfied Customers: 43973
Experience:  BEc Dip Ed, Dip Law (SAB) MTax (UNSW)
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My grandaughter is 15 nearly 16 parents are divorced and she

Customer Question

my grandaughter is 15 nearly 16 parents are divorced and she wants to live with her father mother will not allow it can she make her own choice legally
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: she currently lives with mother in bridgetown western australia and her father lives in bunbury she hates where she is living because most of her friends and family live in bunbury also there is more for her in bunbury to do as bridgetown is a small town and she has more chance of finding partime work while still going to school she is very unhappy where she is
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Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Australia Law
Expert:  Leon replied 1 year ago.

Good Morning

My name is ***** ***** I am a NSW Solicitor. Thank you for your question, and will do my best to assist you with your question. Please understand this is not legal advise Please understand this is not legal advise but a guide to assist you.

At the age of 14 she has a right to choose and if the matter is to go to court then the court will listen to her wishes.

The following is information is what the law has said about this issue.

Until 1974, children had ‘the right’ to choose which parent they lived with at age 14. Since the Family Law Act came into effect in 1975, there has been no hard and fast rule.

The Family Court now looks at a number of factors in deciding with which parent a child shall live.

There is a presumption that it is in the interests of a child to spend as much time as possible with both parents. That is called a “rebuttable presumption” in that it is a starting point, but many factors are considered before the Court will make such an Order.

The wishes of the child are important. Equally important are the reasons for the Child stating those wishes, and also considerations such as the Child’s age, maturity and level of understanding. There is little point asking a 4 year old, no matter how bright the parents may think the child is. At the other end of the scale, the Court generally looks dimly on a Parent who demands a 16 year old be told by the Court with whom they shall live.

There is no magical age. The 8 year old should normally be asked, however the Court is not bound by what they say. It is a factor to be weighed-up. A 14-15 year old will normally have their wishes granted, so long as they are expressed to be for the appropriate reasons.

One case allowed 2 children (8 and 10 years old - sister & brother) to decide that they wanted to stop living with one parent and start living with the other because the other parent provided proper accommodation, took them to school, put shoes on their feet, and fed them as one would expect to feed children that age. Very basic needs which were not being met adequately by the first parent. At the other end of the scale, a 16 year old child with a significant mental impairment will be asked, however if the Court is not convinced that their wishes are actually in their best interests, other factors will take priority.

The Court specifically looks at the attitude of each parent towards the task of parenting, whether the parents are able to provide adequately for the child and whether a parent will actively promote the relationship between the Child and the other parent. The Court prefers not to separate Children where possible. Violence, drug and alcohol abuse are also considered.

I hope this makes sense and is of assistance. If there is nothing further

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If I have missed anything, or you have any further questions please let me know

If there is anything else in the future please do not hesitate to ask.

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Regards

Leon