In Pennsylvania, at what age can a child pick which parent they want to live with?

| Jan 5, 2021 | Child Custody |

When parents divorce, the biggest thing on their minds is usually, “Who gets custody of the kids?”

The rumor mill is pretty rife with falsehoods about how custody works, especially when it comes to the ability of children to pick their own primary custodian.

There’s no magic age that grants a child the right to choose

It doesn’t matter if your child is 12, 14 or 16 years of age: Their feelings on the matter of custody are only one small part of the equation that the court will use when deciding custody.

Pennsylvania law doesn’t give children of any age the absolute right to choose which parent gets custody of them. Instead, it merely states that “the well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child’s maturity and judgment” should be given consideration.

Theoretically, that means that a rational argument about custody given by a 12-year-old child could carry more weight than an emotional argument from a 16-year-old. Even then, however, the court must consider more than a dozen other factors that may be relevant before making any decisions about custody.

Make the best case for custody you can by planning ahead

Ideally, of course, you’ll work your custody issues out without involving the court — but that may not always be possible.

When you suspect that you may have a fight over custody on your hands, it’s smart to plan ahead. Speaking with an experienced family law attorney here in Du Bois can help you develop an effective strategy for court. It can also help you better understand both the strengths of your case and any challenges you may face.