You want to spend time with your children after your divorce. You fully understand that your ex also wants that time with them and has a right to it. But you expect to share the kids through a joint custody agreement.

Your ex, however, is not so sure. They tell you that the children want to live with them, not with you. They say that the court is going to give them sole custody because that’s what the kids are going to choose. Is this true? Do the children have that ability?

The wishes of the child

In terms of legal custody, the wishes of the child will typically be considered. This is contingent on the idea that the child is making a reasonable decision and is old enough to express it. For instance, a four-year-old saying they want to live with your ex won’t carry much weight, but a 16-year-old saying the same thing probably will.

The big thing to remember, though, is that these wishes are just one part of the equation. Will the court consider what your children want? They absolutely can. Will they definitely do what the children ask them to do? Not necessarily.

The court tries to make decisions that focus on the children’s best interests. Adults know that those very children may not always understand what is best for them. They’ll take what the kids want into account, but the children cannot make that decision on their own.

Your options

Your custody decisions may get complex if you’re already in this position. Be sure you understand your legal rights.