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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 100553
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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How old must a child be before he/she can choose which parent

Customer Question

How old must a child be before he/she can choose which parent they want to live with? Child was born and raised in NJ. One parent has relocated to SC. The other parent is refusing to allow the child to choose
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Ely replied 5 years ago.
Hello,

Welcome to JustAnswer and thank you for the opportunity to assist you. Please remember that there might be a delay between your follow up questions and my answers because I may be helping other clients or taking a break.

What state was the decree adjudicated in? NJ?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Yes, NJ
Expert:  Ely replied 5 years ago.
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX holds the jurisdiction here, in this case.

NJ legislature allows the Court to consider the preference of the child, but does not state an age. What NJ Courts to is if the child wishes to state a preference, the Judge will usually see if the child is mature enough by interviewing the child in chambers without other parties. Normally, children of 12 and above are considered.

The child's preference is taken into consideration but is NOT the deciding factor. Judges know that often, children will want to live with the adult that allows them the most freedom but is not necessarily the best custodian, so while the children's preference is noted, it does not define the judgment for custody.

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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
This question is for Eli: would a custody suit be required first?
Expert:  Ely replied 5 years ago.
Hello,

Indeed. One would have to file a Petition for Modification of Custody and set it for a hearing. At trial, the Court would then hear said preference if the child is approved as a witness.

Also, a motion for temporary orders can be had while the main trial is pending (and likewise, the child's preference would then be heard then).

I hope you found my answer helpful, and if so please click on the ACCEPT button. This is the only way for me to get credit for my work; I receive no credit for my time with you until you actually press ACCEPT, even if you already have a subscription. If you still need to clarify something or seek more information, just use the REPLY button and I’d be more than happy to follow up to your satisfaction! There is no fee for follow up questions before or after accepting, should you wish to continue in the thread, and I encourage you to do so should you desire clarification.