Can your child choose where to live after a divorce?

An interesting fact about North Carolina is that the court will hear a child’s wishes when they’re old enough to make them known. In your divorce case, this is important, because your child’s words do make a difference.

It’s always the case that a child’s best interests come first. A judge is going to listen to you and your spouse to hear what kind of custody arrangements may work best for you. In your case, you may want to split time 50-50, or you might be looking at a different arrangement altogether.

No matter what the circumstances are, you are expected to put your child first. If you and your ex-spouse have differences in opinion about the physical custody schedule and your child is caught in the middle, that’s where your case gets much more difficult.

Does your child control where they live after your divorce

No, not exactly. No child is able to make the final decision about where they will live after the divorce. However, the court will consider several factors including your child’s opinion.

The weight that your child’s opinion has will depend on factors such as their age and maturity level. Sometimes, their opinion will be taken very seriously, such as if they are 17 and nearing their 18th birthday. Other times, the court may not weigh their opinion as heavily, such as if they’re too young to understand what the custody schedule really means for them.

Child custody is determined based on six main factors in North Carolina, though there are others that may come up in your case. Some of the common factors considered include:

  • The ability of you or your ex to provide care to your child
  • You child’s safety
  • Your child’s current home and living arrangement
  • The ability of either parent to provide a safe and stable home environment
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • Your relationship with your child

Additionally, the court does allow grandparent rights, so those could complicate your custody schedule.

If you’re going through a custody dispute, know your rights and the law. Talk to your child about their wishes and be prepared to fight for a fair custody schedule.

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