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What is the legal age children can make their own decisions

Customer Question
if they want to visit...
What is the legal age children can make their own decisions if they want to visit with a parent they do not want to be around because of some things they had to endure when living under the same roof with that parent before the divorce.
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Family Law
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3/23/2009
Family Lawyer: Cowgirl Lawyer, Lawyer replied 8 years ago
Cowgirl Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 1,422
Experience: Attorney for 22 years. Family law, child custody and support, domestic violence.
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HelloCustomer

Thank you for choosing JustAnswer! In order to assist you it would be helpful to know a few things:

1) the CITY and STATE where the children reside;

2) the nature of the things they endured (sexual abuse, physical abuse, parent too strict, etc.)

Thanks!

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
The divorce took place in North Carolina and the children now reside with me in North Little Rock, Ark. They suffered some physical and mental abuse that I am not sure if everything was presented to the judge at that time I know for sure all of it was not brought up in the court room. Because of court order I have to make them go with their set visitations. Please advise how long they have go before there rights come into to play. Some of the abuse was administered by their older bother from a previous relationship where they looked to their mother for help but instead they were punished and called stupid at times by the mother.
Family Lawyer: Cowgirl Lawyer, Lawyer replied 8 years ago
HelloCustomer

There is no age at which the children have an absolute right to make a decision about either custody or visitation. In order to limit or end visitation, evidence concerning why it should be limited or ended (thus impacting the other parent's legal rights to the child) will have to be presented to the court. The court will look at the best interests of the child, and the parent's rights to have contact with that child. One thing that a court MAY consider in weighing these legal issues is the expressed desire of the child. The court has wide discretion in this matter, but the older and more mature the child, the more likely the court might at leastl consider the child's views.

Often, courts do not give much weight to the desires of children, even teenagers. If the court does take the child's opinions into account, it is generally only after interviewing the child in chambers (outside the courtroom). Generally, if a court considers such expressions of opinion from the child, it is done outside the presence of either parent so that no pressure can be applied even indirectly, and often outside the presence of even the attorneys, so that the children can be assured that their real opinions will not be reported to the parents by the parents' attorneys. Courts do not like putting children in a position of feeling that they need to testify in a certain way to please one or another parent, as this is psychologically unhealthy for the child.

Therefore, if you want to limit or end visitation, you will need to put on evidence regarding the abuse the children have suffered. Since this was not raised prior to the divorce in order to prevent visitation then, the evidence presented will need to be post-divorce abuse in order to be persuasive. If there is a great concern about the safety of the children, it should be raised in an evidentiary hearing prior to the divorce, with a request that visitation be limited or supervised due to safety concerns. Post-divorce, in order to change visitation or custody, there must be a showing of something that has happened since the divorce.

I will be happy to clarify my answer if you need me to do so, or give you further explanation if you don't understand. If not, please click ACCEPT to pay Just Answer and me for helping you. Your positive feedback wins me points and costs you but a moment of time. A "bonus" awards me for an especially good job.



Next time you visit Just Answer, please ask for me by name by starting your question with "For Gloria M."

Good luck and best wishes!

Gloria M

Please be aware that my answer is not legal advice, it is merely informational and educational. Fees I receive for answering questions are paid for information, not legal advice. This forum is designed to provide only general information, to give you a basis of knowledge. You and I have not entered into an attorney/client relationship, and I am not responsible for your legal rights. The only way for us to be in an attorney/client relationship is if you have signed a written retainer agreement with my law firm, and I am only licensed to practice law in Illinois. You should consult with legal counsel in your area for specific information relevant to your situation.




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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Before I accept your answer and I will but have one more question in conjunction with this one. All the evidence was presented to my attorney at the time she just never brought it up in court where as she and my former wife's seemed to be more for her than the interest of the children and my safety as well. Just to make sure I am understanding you correctly I have to present new evidence and although they are not comfortable with her there is nothing that can be done at this point since the case is already decided.
Family Lawyer: Cowgirl Lawyer, Lawyer replied 8 years ago
HelloCustomer

There may have been a very good reason why the issue was not presented in court the first time around. It may have been that your attorney did not believe there was sufficient evidence at that time that would cause the court to require supervised or limited visitation.

Abuse has to be fairly extreme in order for a court to sev Ierely limit a parent's legal right to their child. If the evidence you shared with your attorney did not reach that level, such that it was likely to cause the judge to order supervised or limited visitation, then it would have been unwise to pursue it at that time. Indeed, raising a claim that does not adequately challenge the fitness of the other parent to a degree that the parent's parental rights should be limited can backfire against the parent raising the issue, making the court even less likely to award primary custody to the parent raising an issue the court finds lacking. It is likely that your attorney dealt with the matter appropriately.

In order to limit or curtail the visitation that the mother gets with her children, new evidence would have to be presented to the court that would indicate such severe abuse that it would justify curtailing or limiting the visitation, and the mother's rights to her children.

I will be happy to clarify my answer if you need me to do so, or give you further explanation if you don't understand. If not, please click ACCEPT to pay Just Answer and me for helping you. Your positive feedback wins me points and costs you but a moment of time. A "bonus" awards me for an especially good job.



Next time you visit Just Answer, please ask for me by name by starting your question with "For Gloria M."

Good luck and best wishes!

Gloria M

Please be aware that my answer is not legal advice, it is merely informational and educational. Fees I receive for answering questions are paid for information, not legal advice. This forum is designed to provide only general information, to give you a basis of knowledge. You and I have not entered into an attorney/client relationship, and I am not responsible for your legal rights. The only way for us to be in an attorney/client relationship is if you have signed a written retainer agreement with my law firm, and I am only licensed to practice law in Illinois. You should consult with legal counsel in your area for specific information relevant to your situation.




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