Can A 16-Year-Old Modify Child Custody?


Do child custody laws allow for a teenager to change custody agreements?

My ex-wife has had custody of our 16-year-old daughter for many years. Recently, my daughter has said she wants to come live with me partially because my ex-wife and her husband constantly say negative things about me.

To modify custody based on a 16-year-old’s wishes, is it as simple as going to court and my daughter saying she would prefer to live with me, or do I have to prove that the environment in my house is better for her than having her mind poisoned against me in her mother’s house?


This answer only includes general divorce help for men since I am only licensed to practice in Oklahoma and am thus unable to provide any legal advice on divorce on the divorce laws in other states.

The short answer to your question is yes. Given the age of your child (over the age of 12), changing child custody can be as simple as filing what is called a Motion to Modify Custody, Visitation and Child Support based on your daughter’s desire to live with you and the fact that your ex and her husband routinely say negative things about you to the minor child in the attempt to poison the child’s mind against you.

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Of course, while it can be that simple, there are other factors that the court must consider. The court is going to look at a plethora of factors to determine whether to grant the change of custody or not.

It is what we call the totality of the circumstances test. After looking at all the factors, the court will weigh the evidence and make a decision.

While I cannot predict what that decision will be, if your 16-year-old daughter is adamant that she wants to move and she can articulate valid reasons for why she wants to move, I believe there is a good chance the court will switch custody.

Additionally, if your daughter is willing to testify that her mother routinely says negative things about you that will only make your chances better that the court will modify custody.

As I am sure you know, a valid reason for your daughter wanting to come live with you is not and cannot be based on bribes, such as “Dad promised me a new car since I’m 16, but Mom said I have to work for one.”

Please understand that my opinions are based upon the limited facts that you provided to me. For a more in depth discussion of fathers rights and legal advice on divorce, I urge you to contact a family law attorney

To set up an appointment with a Cordell & Cordell mens divorce attorney, including Brock Ellis, an Associate Attorney in the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, office, please contact Cordell & Cordell.

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17 Comments on "Can A 16-Year-Old Modify Child Custody?"

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1 month 5 days ago
I am 17 years old I live in pa with my grandparents they have been abusing me since I was 8. they used to put hot sauce in my food hit me with the metal parts of belt they tell me that I am no good and that I am a failure and that I am not going to go anywhere with my life. I want to go and live with my cousin who is 23 or 24 and everyone says she is not a good person for me to live with but I don’t see what the problem is… Read more »
4 months 29 days ago
I’m 16-years-old. April this year my mom sent me to live with my dad because we thought I’d be better off in a new environment, with new people, and a different society. I moved from New Jersey to California. But, now I want to go back. This is not because I miss my freedom, or my friends, or family, or anything. Although thise things are all painful to be without, it’s because my dad’s alcoholism is worsening every day. He drinks so much now. Today, Christmas Eve, he said he “wouldn’t get hammered” because it’s the day his side of… Read more »
5 months 10 days ago

I’m 14 and I dont want to live with my mom or my dad.. Or my family.. They treat me poorly, well My dad is good to me but is out of state and doesnt have a job. Could my friends mom possibly get custody of me?

jeimily santos
5 months 27 days ago
My daughter is 14 yr . Her dad got custody of her and her two brothers of 17 and 16 sinse 2013. They live at Utica.NY. I got married with my new partner. My daughter wants to move with me here at Chicago.. She tells me when she call that she tired of her father because he treat her like a women .he makes her clean the house. Cooking. Don’t let her play with her toys. Have friends. He doesn’t let her take a bath at night just when he said so. She also tells me he keeps talking negative… Read more »
Felicia Kelly
6 months 4 days ago
I just turned 16 October 29th , approximately 5 months ago my mother kicked me out of her house and I’m now living with my father who wasn’t allowed on my birth certificate…. I’m FINALLY happy and am doing very well in school and emotionally I’m ok givin the circumstances….my mother has reported me as a run away after she came to her senses and we had the whole police interaction etc…. Well she didn’t even take me home, she took me to a very good friend whom has been a huge support system for me during all of this… Read more »
10 months 7 days ago

Hi I’m 16 years old and live in Missouri, and have lived with my mother for as long as I can remember, I have mentioned to her multiple times in the past and she always told me no, I have always wanted to live with my father and I want to know if I can, he has been on probation for awhile, will that affect anything in court? Or will I even have to go to court? My main question is how can I get to live with my father.

emily ashman
26 days 2 hours ago

if you are in high school id recommed speaking to your guidance counsler about it and speak to your father about it. and if you do end up going to court, there is a high chance that your father being on probation with be a factor upon who the court choices as a fit parent for you to live with. just first thing to do is speak with someone you trust and who may have info on how you can move forward in trying to live with your father, im in the same situation but best of luck!

1 month 5 days ago

In some cases if a family member is on probation they will not allow someone to live in the same household depending why he is own probation

Iris Mendoza
1 year 18 days ago
im 16 (in Beaumont tx) and about to be 17 in December im in cps custody and theyre trying to send me with my grandmother in which my dad will be going there in a few days .. hes in a half way house , barely getting out of prison an a registered sex offender. I don’t want to live there. I want to go to san Antonio tx where my guardian lives . and yesterday I talked to my casa worker and she said most likely next week id be going to san Antonio tx with her or to… Read more »
Kyle V.
1 year 8 months ago

Im 17, going to be 18 next year. My parents are divorced. And recently in court my dad won an extra weekend. I wasnt called into the courtroom at all. I heard i was supposed to be. Can i go against what he won in court? Or, at least i think i shouldve gotten a say.

D M Ratliff
1 year 10 months ago

I failed to mention I’m in IL

D M Ratliff
1 year 10 months ago
change of custody of teenager ag 16Wen we first divorced my ex and I had joint custody. In 2008 I got sole custody of my now 16 yr old son, he was 8 at the time. My oldest son a freshman in HS went with his dad long story shirt my oldest son dropped out of HS and is now married raising a baby while working at pizza parlor and can’t he better job because he can’t pass drug test. He must smoke weed every 30 mins’ my ex step son has pur/accp alcohol minor charge and possession of drug… Read more »
7 months 12 days ago
I just read your story and I have the EXACT issue right now; was hoping you could tell me if there is anything I can do. Our stories only difference is it’s my Daughter. She’s in 11th grade also. Please tell me there’s something can do. Her Father has not filed for Custody but she left Friday October 2nd for “his’ weekend; although she’s spent the last 3 weekends there. She hasn’t stayed here since Friday 10/2; she has said multiple times that she is NOT coming back. Like your issue, he lets her come/go as she pleases. Drives over… Read more »