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Attorney & Mediator
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My wife and I have been separated for a year and I have been

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My wife and I have been separated for a year and I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to come to an agreement with her on custody of our 5 children so that our divorce can be as amicable as possible. My wife has done her best to turn our oldest, who is 14, against me by bringing her into all of our adult matters and telling our daughter that everything is my fault. Unfortunately, this has worked and my oldest daughter no longer wants to see me. My second child, however, is an 11 year old daughter who recently came to me and said she wants to come live with me full time, citing various reasons why. We have 3 other children, ages 9, 8, and 6. I know if I let her live with me my wife will freak out and the other kids won't understand. So, my question is two-fold: what is the worst my wife could do if I allow my daughter to come live with me, and what advice can you give for handling the other three children? I don't want them to think that I love my daughter more than them; should I give them a choice as well? Or get their opinion and then decide from there? We have not yet gotten lawyers or judges involved in our divorce/custody matter. More than anything, I just need to know what the worst thing is she could do if I decided to keep one or more of the children with me. Is her only course of action to take me to court? Or are there other avenues she can take? I am asking you because you responded to one of my previous questions, and I valued the response I received. Any information you can provide this second time around would be GREATLY appreciated.
1) what is the worst my wife could do if I allow my daughter to come live with me, and what advice can you give for handling the other three children?

Since there are no court orders in place, she cannot do anything. Both parents have legal rights to the child. She can attempt to lie and say you took the child against their will, but the 11 year old can vouch that you did not. So long as there are no temporary orders in place you have not done anything against the law that she can charge you with. In custody cases the law prefers to give shared custody as that will benefit the children. Unless proven unfit, then the court would award custody to one over the other, but a child her age is allowed to state her preference to the court for consideration.

As to the other children, just let them know the truth, that your 11 year old has asked to live with you and that they are welcome to join you if they wish. That way you leave the door open for the other children to know that you welcome them if they wish to live with you.

I don't want them to think that I love my daughter more than them; should I give them a choice as well?


Legally children don't have the right to make these decisions, it should be made between the parents or before the court. The decision should be based on what will foster the child's best interests. A child in their teens is permitted to state a preference but the ultimate decision would be from the parents or the court as to what is right based on the circumstances.

You may wish to see if family counseling would work with regards XXXXX XXXXX communication and working out a parenting plan. This may be helpful if neither one is yet ready to file for divorce.





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