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

By June 13, 2012June 21st, 2019Child Custody, Susan Block Featured
By Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C. of Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C. posted in Child Custody on Wednesday, June 13, 2012.

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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Susan E. Block

Susan E. Block

Susan Block returned to the practice of law after retiring as a Circuit Judge in 2004, with 25 years of judicial service. In her last judicial assignment she was appointed to serve as the Administrative Judge of the Family Court with the authority to manage the policies and practices of this division, while maintaining a full caseload of abuse, neglect, delinquency and adoption matters.

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