At what age can a child refuse to see a parent in Georgia?
You might be seeking a shared custody arrangement from the court, or you might have a shared custody arrangement where your child spends time living with both parents, and it works out for a period of time. However, what happens when your child decides they do not want to see one of their parents? Does their opinion weigh on your custody arrangement?
Is Your Child Old Enough to Choose?
In Georgia, the legal age at which a child can choose regarding which parent they want to live primarily is 14 years old. However, this is for which parent is the primary custodian, not what the other parent’s visitation schedule should be. The child's preference is for visitation may be considered by the court, but it is not the sole determining factor. The court will weigh the child's wishes alongside other factors that are relevant to their best interests to determine what visitation schedule is best for the child.
If a younger child expresses a strong preference to see or not see a parent, the court may still take their wishes into consideration, but it is generally given much less weight compared to the preferences of older children, unless there are significant and compelling reasons why the court should not require the child to see the other parent.
It's important to note that even if a child expresses a preference, the court ultimately makes the final decision based on what is in the child's best interests. This may involve considering factors such as the child's relationship with both parents, their emotional and physical well-being, any history of abuse or neglect, and each parent's ability to provide a stable and supportive environment. For example, the court might weigh the child’s preference less if their reasoning is based on looser parental rules in one house or undue influence by a parent.
Additionally, if a parent believes that a child's preference is influenced by the other parent or other external factors, they may request a custody evaluation or seek legal remedies to address any potential coercion or manipulation.
Further, if you already have a custody arrangement in place and your child stands firm in their preferences not to see their other parent, discuss your options with a Georgia child custody attorney immediately, as the court might approve a modification of your custody order.
Ultimately, the goal of the court in Georgia, as in most states, is to ensure that the best interests of the child are prioritized when making decisions about custody and visitation. This includes taking into account the child's own wishes, but also considering a range of other factors to create a safe and supportive living arrangement for the child.
Seek Assistance from a Georgia Child Custody Attorney
It's important for parents involved in custody disputes to consult with a family law attorney who is knowledgeable about Georgia's laws and can provide guidance on how to navigate the legal process while advocating for the best interests of the child.