What happens if a child has a strong preference about custody?

There are few things that are more challenging to deal with as a parent than knowing that your child is struggling. Unfortunately, for many kids, being part of a family when their parents are no longer romantically connected serves as a genuine challenge.

Perhaps they feel too unstable straddling an arrangement whereby they’re transported between two households with relative frequency. Perhaps tension or challenging circumstances have developed in one household as opposed to the other. For whatever reason, your child may have decided that they either want to reside primarily or exclusively with you or your co-parent.

What can you do?

If you and your co-parent agree to a shift in co-parenting responsibilities, you can get legal assistance as you formalize an adjustment to your custody order and/or parenting plan. If you and your co-parent don’t agree to the shift, you’ll need to determine whether your position is worth fighting for.

In North Carolina, a child’s preference can be considered by a judge – in the event of a contentious question concerning where they will primarily (or exclusively) reside – when they are capable of forming a rational and intelligent preference as to the issue in question. You will need to take your child’s age and ability to have their preference considered by a judge under advisement as you strategize how you want to move forward.

You may fully support, feel conflicted about or vehemently oppose your child’s expressed preference for where they want to live and with whom. Before reacting to the reality of this consequential situation in any particular way, seeking legal guidance is likely going to be a wise decision.

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