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Meigs
Meigs, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
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If mom and dad are divorced, but have joint legal and physical

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If mom and dad are divorced, but have joint legal and physical custody of a 16-year-old who stays one week with dad and one week with mom, but the child wants to live with just one parent, can the child legally make that choice? under what conditions? If a 14-year-old sibling wants to do the same thing, can she? Then what happens to the 11-year-old?

No actual abuse, but one parent is arbitrary re rules/restrictions, etc, and the kids are STRESSED. The two older ones definitely want to live only with the one parent of their choice.

meigs004 :

Hello, how are you today?

Customer:

could be better!

meigs004 :

So you are wondering what age a child can make a choice as to which parent they want to live with?

Customer:

well, yes. but also what the procedure is. Can a child just say they don't want to go? or do they have to go through a legal procedure? or what?

Customer:

My daughter (16) is supposed to go to her dad's tomorrow, but she doesn't want to....and this is WAY beyond just not wanting to go. She was hysterical.

meigs004 :

You would have to go through a legal procedure to modify the custody order. In most jurisdictions there is not an age distinction as to when a child can decide where they want to live. The reason for that is that family law courts feel that a child does not know what is best for him or her. However, Georgia is one jurisdiction that provides an age, and that age is 14. If you were to file a petition to modify the custody order and visitation arrangement, then the court is inclined to accept the children's wishes with regard to who they desire to live with.

meigs004 :

However, without the custody order being changed, it is still considered a binding and enforceable order of the court, and if not complied with, those actions could lead to a potential show cause/contempt proceeding for the parent who did not comply to show why they did not comply with the existing order.

meigs004 :

A child between 11 &XXXXXwill consider the child

meigs004 :

's wishes with regard to where they want to live.

Customer:

So Iwould have to take legal action. She cannot. Also, there's nothing we could do prior to the court date, which could take a long time??

meigs004 :

You could seek as a part of the action to seek a pendente lite visitation or custody arrangement. This means pending litigation on the custody/visitation matter.

meigs004 :

Here is the code law stating the age in GA.

Customer:

So if I just let her stay with me when she's supposed to go to him, then I could be found in contempt, right?

meigs004 :

GA Code 19-9-1


(3)(A) In all cases in which the child has reached the age of 14 years, the child shall have the right to select the parent with whom he or she desires to live. The child�s selection shall be controlling, unless the parent so selected is determined not to be a fit and proper person to have the custody of the child.


(B) In all cases in which the child has reached the age of at least 11 but not 14 years, the court shall consider the desires, if any, and educational needs of the child in determining which parent shall have custody. The court shall have complete discretion in making this determination, and the child�s desires are not controlling. The court shall further have broad discretion as to how the child�s desires are to be considered, including through the report of a guardian ad litem. The best interest of the child standard shall be controlling.


 



  • ** Please note, that GA is the only state where the child basically gets to choose who has custody of them--unless, as stated above, the parent they choose is deemed to be unfit. In every other state, the child's wishes (at a certain age/maturity level) are considered, but the court is not required to abide by them.

meigs004 :

You could be liable for that yes.\

meigs004 :

Does that answer your question?

meigs004 :

If so, please remember to provide a positive rating prior to exiting the chat, otherwise I can not be credited for our time together.

Customer:

Got it. So would I be able to get an immediate pendente lite arrangement? like an emergency hearing? ...but it's not really an emergency in the sense that she's in immediate danger... (although when she gets hysterical like this I do wonder what she could do... She said she doesn't want to wake up tomorrow... and it seemed quite serious (not just a kid saying they don't want to go to school...))

meigs004 :

No, unfortunately an emergency order is only for situations where there is immediate physical danger to the child.

meigs004 :

Sorry.

meigs004 :

Do you have any other questions?

Customer:

yeah. apparently emotional and verbal abuse/danger don't count.

Customer:

thank you. no other questions. will give a positive rating.

meigs004 :

It does, but you are going have to show extreme verbal and emotional abuse to get an emergency order. The emergency orders are reserved for physical danger situations.

meigs004 :

Thanks! XXXXX!

meigs004 :

Please do not forget to leave a positive rating!

Customer:

I will. Just want to print the chat first!

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