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What Age Can My Child Decide Where She Wants to Live?

By June 13, 2012July 21st, 2023Child Custody, Susan Block Featured

By Susan E. Block

According to Missouri statutes, a child cannot decide which parent she wants to live with until she is 18.

However, one of the factors that a Judge must consider is the wishes of a child as to the child’s custodian.

Critical to this judicial determination are the reasons a child wants to live with one parent over another. Is that parent more lenient and permissive? Does that parent promise the child material possessions? Is the child trying to please the parent or afraid to tell the parent the truth?

Because a Judge must find that a custody decision is in the best interest of a child, it cannot simply be custody based on a child’s wishes. There are seven other factors set forth in Missouri law.

It would be unusual to have a custody dispute over a child’s wishes if she is over 16 years of age for sure. The wishes of a teenager perhaps will be considered, and the wishes of a youngster rarely will be considered. Don’t be surprised if your child tells you one thing and tells the other parent another. After all, she is a child.


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