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S. Kincaid
S. Kincaid, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 2432
Experience:  I have practiced family law since 1996, focusing on child custody and domestic violence
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Can a 15 or 16 year old decide which parent to live with regardless

Customer Question

Can a 15 or 16 year old decide which parent to live with regardless of custodial parent's wishes?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  S. Kincaid replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for allowing me to assist you.
Do you have parenting plan in Washington State or from Montana? (Or no pareting plan.) I'm going to answer based on my assumption that you have a Washington parenting plan. If that is the case, then the answer to your question is "no." Under a Washington law, the parenting plan controls and the child may not opt out of it as long as she remains a minor. If there is no parenting plan, then you might want to get a Washington parenting plan and enforce it.
Does that fully answer your question?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
There is a parenting plan in place. The divorce was in MT. I moved to WA and at the time, my ex had decided he would soon follow, to make visitation easier (we supposedly have shared custody, based on holidays -- me having the kids during the school year). However, he never moved to WA and instead remained in MT. The parenting plan is based on alternating holidays and summers with their dad. Now he says he spoke to someone in MT who told him he can file papers there, claiming she is old enough to make up her own mind and she will be able to move in with him, because she is 15 (16 at the end of this year). Her residence is with me, in WA state. Can he do this?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The divorce was finalized in MT. Does this make a difference, even though her permanent residence is with me in WA and has been for 5 years now?
Expert:  S. Kincaid replied 2 years ago.
Was the parenting plan entered in Montana or in Washington State?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The divorce was finalized in MT with the parenting plan, even though I lived in WA at the time. I had to sign the papers and submit them by mail.
Expert:  S. Kincaid replied 2 years ago.
In that case, Montana law will apply. Under Montana law, the child never gets to unilaterally decide. But, more weight is given to the child's wishes than in Washington. Still, if he wants to keep her, he must change the court order, or he could be found in contempt.