When Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With?

Divorce is rife with difficult decisions, and some of the most difficult of all relate to child custody concerns. If you’re facing a child custody battle in your divorce (or in the form of a modification), you’re facing a difficult task ahead, and if your children are coming up on or are in their teenage years, you may wonder if they have the right to decide which parent they’ll live with. The answer is that it’s complicated. If you’re facing a child custody matter, reach out to an experienced Cumming child custody attorney today.

Affidavit of Custody Election

Once your children reach the age of 14 in the State of Georgia, they are entitled to weigh in regarding whom they choose to live with the majority of the time. Upon making this decision, the child may sign an Affidavit of Custody Election, which is subsequently submitted to and considered by the court. Ultimately, however, the decision is up to the discretion of the court, which always bases decisions concerning child custody on the best interests of the children involved. In other words, even a teen who is at least 14 and who makes his or her wishes known in an Affidavit of Custody does not have the final say regarding which parent will take on the role of his or her primary custodian, but it is presumed that the child’s election is in this or her best interest.

Factors Considered

When making its decisions regarding child custody – even when there is an Affidavit of Custody Election in play – the court will take a range of factors into careful consideration, including:

  • The environment in each parent’s home
  • Each parent’s ability and willingness to provide for the children’s basic needs
  • Each parent’s ability to provide stability in the children’s lives
  • Each parent’s mental and physical health
  • Each parent’s ongoing involvement in the children’s daily activities
  • Any evidence of substance abuse, family violence, or child abuse in either parent’s home
  • The emotional ties the children have formed with each parent

It’s the court’s duty to place children with the parent who is better able to provide for their ongoing safety and well-being.

Child Custody Modification and Substantial Change

In order to request a child custody modification, there must have been a substantial change in your circumstances that warrants such a modification. Common changes that rise to the level of substantial tend to include things like health complications and job-based relocations. A child who is at least 14 who requests a custodial change, however, may also qualify. It’s important to note, though, that such a change can only be requested once over the two-year period since any prior selection.

Don’t Wait to Consult with an Experienced Forsyth County Child Custody Attorney

Child custody concerns are serious concerns that should be given the serious legal consideration they deserve. That’s why the Cumming child custody attorneys at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland dedicate their practice to defending the parental rights of clients like you. Our legal team is on your side, so please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at 770-887-1209 for more information about how we can help you today.