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Can children decide which parent they want to live with?

When divorced or separated parents in Georgia cannot come to an agreement about child custody issues, a judge will have to make those decisions. While considering the different options, a judge might take the wishes of the child into consideration or let the child decide where they would like to live. However, the child must have reached a certain age before they can have an influence on a custody decision.

If a child is between the ages of 11 and 13 when their parents separate, a judge will listen to the child's wishes about which parent they would like to live with. The child's wishes will be considered, but the judge might not necessarily honor them when making a ruling in the case.

Once a child has reached the age of 14, the child has the right to decide which parent they would like to live with. However, judges can still veto the child's decision if they determine that it is not in the child's best interest. If a custody decision was already made before a child turned 14, a parent can file a petition to modify the order once the child turns 14.

As long as the child has expressed a sincere desire to live with the noncustodial parent, a parent who lost physical custody of their child after a divorce might decide to seek a modification of the custody order once the child turns 14. A parent who would like to petition the court for a modification of the custody order might want to seek representation from a family law attorney who has experience in child custody matters.

Source: women's law, "Custody", January 07, 2015

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