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

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Kourtney ooton
1 month 9 days ago
I am 16. Back in April my mom kicked me out and I didn’t live with her for 2 months (I was 15 then) I had no way to get a job because she wouldn’t give me my SSC or birth certificate so I had no money. I had asked her if she could give me the money my dad pays for child support to live off because she wasn’t supporting me like she should. She told me he didn’t pay any. I then moved back in with my mom in June and she still doesn’t pay for any of… Read more »
Alaila Jordan
3 months 17 days ago
I Am 16 Years Old, I’ve Been Living With My Aunty and Grandma For Basically My Whole Life. Lately I’ve Been Wanting To Live With My Dad Or My Mother Because I’m Growing Up Without Them Being In My Life. My Grandma And Aunty Dont Like My Father Over Some Old Stuff And I Barely Get To See Him. My Mother Lives In Arkansas. They Always Say We’re Going To Take A Trip To Visit Her But We Never Do. Me And My Father Talked About Me Coming And Living With Him And Also Taking Trips To See My Mother,… Read more »
4 months 29 days ago
I am 15 years old (16 in Sept) and have been told that a judge ordered me to see my dad every other week. I have not seen my dad for a year and he has not tried once to reach out to me. I do NOT want to go over to his house. Over a year ago my older sister and I refused and my mom requested a change in parenting time on our behalf. We had to see a PRE and she found that My 3 sisters and myself would be better off living primarily with my mom… Read more »
6 months 3 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 »
9 months 27 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 »
10 months 8 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
10 months 25 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
11 months 2 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 »
sully morse
4 months 23 days ago

well I’m 15 and I’m happy for you! I’m working on literally the same thing as you. But everytime i run away my mom calls the cops and they take me back. good luck

1 year 3 months 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
5 months 24 days 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!

6 months 3 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 5 months 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 »