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

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

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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36 comments on “Can A 16-Year-Old Modify Child Custody?

    i’m 14 and my parents have been divorced for quite a long time. I live with my mom in Colorado whilst my dad lives in Florida. In my current situation, I am required to spend every break in Florida– including a full ten weeks during the summer. As a sophomore in high school, I have been focusing on my future. I go to a performing arts school and my main goal is to become a professional dancer. Although, in order to do so it is very important to go to a company intensive during the summer for an average of 5 weeks. In the past I have been accepted into ballet summer intensives most notably the Bolshoi Ballet Summer Intensive program in Connecticut and New York. Unfortunately, my father has refused to allow me to go to such events as it falls during his parenting time. I really need to go to such an event in order to gain a resume and further my training as a professional, but the child custody agreement bars me from doing so. Is there any way I can resolve this situation in court?

    I’m 15 and my parents have been divorced since i was little. I want to live with my dad but i feel that my mom will make a big deal out of it. My mom makes me feel like a bad person when i ask for more time with my dad. And while im at my dad’s, he is always taking up time with me and even tho it’s just me and him it feels more like a home and a family. I want to know how i can change their custody. And will court be better than mediation.

    Hi I am 15 and my parents have been divorced for 14 years and My life over at my fathers is not the worst but not the best he has a temper. And step mother can be extremely rude and just plain mean to a point that she goes out of her way to bring up flaws about me and will try to find things wrong with anyone that she meets but I was wondering when is the child “me” able to alter there custody schedule As in maby missing a day out of the week or weekend if I wanted to go out with friends bc it a big deal bc my father doesn’t really like it if I ask to go to my mother earlier like at 4 if my drop off is at 6 I don’t ask for much often I just want to be able to change a few dates if something happens thank you

    iam 16, iam trying to go with my father. Can he get into any trouble if he comes to get me, while iam in my mothers custody.

    My son is 16 my daughter is 14. We had a court order that had me primary but we altered it when they were 10 to have him primary. This was a mistake and they now want to be with me. He constantly refers negatively to me and berates the children. His wife, their stepmother hates being around them. They refuse to send my children for their scheduled visits that the ex makes the schedule for. They control and manipulate everyone around them. My son has contemplated running away but I’m concerned he won’t finish high school. I know he can’t come here because of our written agreement but is there a loophole? He’s depressed, has anxiety. Very respectful. Doesn’t want to hurt his fathers feelings by rebelling. They’re in a small town so even the school councillor makes him feel unsafe to talk to. Any advice? I know my situation is in sk Canada but maybe someone has something I can look into.

    I am going through the same thing my daughter lives with her dad but wants to move back with me the step mom males all the rules and tries to keep her from me which over the last two years they have made her feel bad about wanting to visit me so she hasn’t she has finally gotten brave enough to stand up and tell them what she wants but they are friends with the judges in our town is how they got shared custody in the first place I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle this has been going g on for 3 years

    i have not known my dad for 15 years but its because he thought it was or the best to leave me with my mom but know 15 years later he realizes he made a mistake and i forgive him but hes been in the shadows but my own mom is not my mom my stepmom is more of a mother in less then 2 months how is this possible and i have 5 siblings who care about me and vise versa but i want my dad more then ever what do i do

    Wow ….it is really sad that all these people post questions on here and no one ever answers their questions …. a lot of people hurting and reaching out for help …. but no one answers them 🙁

    I live with my mom, her boyfriend and my 15 year old cousin. within the last 6 months, my mom has stopped doing anything for the 15 year old and is emailing other men behind her boyfriends back. She is also on the verge of just taking off and moving out but my cousin does not want to go with her. My mom has guardianship of her and has had guardianship since she was 6 months old.

    My question is if my 15 year old cousin (she will be 16 in may 2017) wants to live with me, can my mom force her to leave with her? or do I stand a chance of getting custody or guardianship of her if I take her to court?

    I do have alot of “evidence” of stuff she has done/not done along with several people ready to rally behind me if need be. The only thing I want is for my cousin to feel safe and loved and I can provide that.

    Any info or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    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 my stuff. I have to pay everything. I asked her a few weeks ago if I could use the child support money to pay for my insurance on a car so I could get myself to and from work because she won’t. She told me AGAIN he didn’t pay any. I just visited my dad for the first time in a while and he showed me his pay stub that shows he does pay it! Now I’m starting to realize my mom has been using it to buy my little brother toys and clothes who isn’t even my dads kid and buying herself new things… What do I do?

    you suck it up buttercup.That money does not belong to you (the child),it is used to reimburse your mother for the money she has already spent on you supporting you, child support does not belong to you.

    Yes reimburse the money she spent on her, so she can have more money to spend on her with things she needs. Like insurance maybe for her car, not for her personal usage.

    First Dave, You are wrong. Child support is for the child’s wants and needs…Unfortunately there are a lot of women/men that thinks child support is a paycheck! Kourtney….move to your dads. at 16 MOST states will not arrest dad and you can start to have custody changed to dad.

    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, He Has No Problem With It, But My Aunty Does. We Tried Just Talking To Her About It But She’s Not Allowing It. So We’re Getting The Court Involved. But I Really Wish It Didn’t Get To That. I Just Wanna Live With My Daddy And Spend More Time With Him.

    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 and my younger sisters should visit my dad every other weekend. My dad has a history of emotional and mental abuse that caused my older sister to cut herself. My dad was ordered to go to counseling and a DM Decision maker was out on the case. I saw the counselor once and the dm once. From that they said I should see my dad every other week because is wants to try. If he wanted to try why has he not reached out to me. HE lied to them! just to hurt me!!! I filmmaker anxiety just thinking about it. The DM recommended I see my dad too. I threw a fit and my mom requested a hearing for a judge to decide. Now she just got back from a status conference? And said the judge ordered me to see my dad without even looking at the abusive history, the PRE report or the fact that the counselor lied. I feel my dad paid the counselor to lie!!!! DO I HAVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE??? PLEASE HELP!!!!

    U have to understand hun, ppl change, grow, learn….I handed both my children off to family BC my mental health and addiction was inexcusable… N that “selfish” desicion I made HAUNTS ME….My now 16 yr old daughter is ready to be in my life more n the family is beating her into the ground, and my mothers drinking is getting back to uncalled for!! Heck, she’s 16 but the house phone gets hidden if my mom leaves …..CRAZY!!!
    MY POINT? Everyone has a story..some good some sad some fake but there’s still a story…..Do u know ur dads story?

    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 she works as an aid in the high school I go to she has 2 healthy kids that are still in her care she is married and pays her bills I will have transportation to school everyday. on Sunday April 17th my household got into a disagreement over stupid stuff and my step grandfather said its either her or its me it is not going to be both and my mom told me to pack my stuff and get off of her property and yesterday Monday April 18th she told me that I was supposed to go home on the bus and as soon as I got home she told me to pack my stuff I was leaving cause my stepgrandfather didn’t want to be in the same household as I am in and I no if I go home tonight there is just going to be a fight and I no if I don’t go home and I go home with my cousin that she will call the cops and say that my cousin kidnapped me and that I was a run away and than my cousin will get in trouble and so will I and I don’t want her to get her kids taken away because of me…. please help

    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 the family opens presents and eats their big dinner. However, he got the most drunk I’ve ever seen him. I had to carry his beverages to his room so he wouldn’t spill it everywhere. I had to clean up a bunch of food he dropped all over the table. I feel more like a mother to him, than he is a father to me. However, I can tolerate his drunkuness. But today he punched me too. And kicked me multiple times. Depsite that none of the kicks were hard, in fact they barely touched me, I told him to stop and he wouldn’t And he said “no one would ever hurt you here. But if push came to shove, I would break your legs…” and other alike things. Later on, when I was tryin to cook candied carrots, he actually did hurt me when he punched me. My Gramma, who also lives with me, saw and told him to stop it. He said “whhaaat? I didn’t even touch her!” But he did. However, there is no bruse. I don’t want to live like this. Everyone always says “2 and a half more years of high school and you’re outta there! Just hold on!” Yes, I get that. But I don’t want to waste away my teenage years living in fear and being more of a parent than a child. I want to go back to New Jersey. He has not even filed paperwork yet to have official custoey of me. The state is so unaware he is still having money being taken out of his checks and sent to my mom. My question is, how can I get back to my mother’s? Is it legal if I just ran away and went back due to the fact that she still has legal custody of me? I need to get out of here. If I have to stay here I will run away. And I don’t want to do that. Please help md

    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?

    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 thing about me . That she wishes to be with me soon .. I’m scared she wants to escape from her dad house Cruz she wants to be with me. Any advise??

    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 dropped me off with her and left ! So after that I went back to my dads and my step mom contacted my birth giver and notified her where I was and court will be in process… I love where I’m at…. I finally have a full loving family who truly cares about my well being… I do not want to have any thing to do with my birth giver… We have NEVER really got along or bonded at all… I need to included that at A younger age I was physically beat by my little sisters father who’s 10 y/o , with the knowledge of my mother who did not stop the abuse I encountered almost on the daily bases. Now my birth giver is trying to go after my father for child support after 16 years …. I am and have been for 5 months in custody of my father full time… And to add to all this my mother wasn’t sure who my father was until she seen the color of my skin. When I was born adoption was a topic brought up but unfortunately bypassed.. My dad has continually tried to make contact with me but repeatedly failed due to unknown reasons!!?? My step mom and dad has been together for 15 years and my step mom was able to make more progress then my father could to see me and spend time with me.. My father has made mistakes in his past and was in prison but during that time my step mom commutated with my mom on and off because my birth giver would stop talking and litterly fall off the the end of the earth for months, years at a time… But I do know that they never gave up trying, due to pictures and vague memories of a couple holidays…Can she now be granted child support although I’m no longer in her supervision. It’s definitely out of spite and disbelief that when you tell a strong willed, super intelligent , independent 16 year old mixed young lady to ” get out of my house” threw a backpack at me and told me to get whatever can in that bag and watches me walk out her door in complete silence and assisted me in shutting her door behind me. She didn’t expect that I would listen… I tought myself a lot by being in my room all day everyday by myself expecially when she pulled me out of school to sit at home TWICE for 6-10 month doing NOTHING… NO school, friends, love, support etc… I learned myself lol… That if you’re not wanted or welcome somewhere then DONT be there… I refuse to go back into that situation, I’m happy and it finally feels good to say… PLEASE AS MUCH INFO REGARDING THIS MESS WILL BE GREATLY APPRECIATED!! In Colorado , if any 1 can help me with these laws and mine and my fathers rights

    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

    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.

    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

    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!

    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 china tx with my cousin matt . but my dad called and said he bought me a bus ticket to go back to my grandmothers house… :/ what can I do? I can refuse it right? if I talk to my lawyer can he do something about it?

    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.

    change of custody of teenager ag 16
    Wen 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 paraphanilia all while living with my ex. M now son 16 wants to live with his dad. He has done great in school with GPA 3.68, football team and lits of friends. He wans to live with dad Cruz of more freedom and no supervision obviously. My ex has not spoken to me before or after he had my 16 yr old son get papers from mail and hand them to me 11 days after post marked. My son was emotionally toe up. My ex alienated me from my oldest son and is doing the same with my youngest son. I’m heart broken but really not for me but for my son. My ex and is wife are very vindictive game playing people . they even tried to get OP on me with my oldest son which judge said was nineesense and through out, my 6 yr old said I ell too much about turning down his TV and poicking up dirty clothes .even though I have sole custody (given to me because judge actually rote in documents “dads motive is to control petitioned and children.”. Now my ex filed for custody of 16 yr old. My an and I have always been very close but I’m the parent and dad is the pal. My son said “everyone thinks I’m more fun at dads because I don’t have to have “manners”” I have every report card , etc showing how ell he has dine. He has also been diagnosed with ADHD and I’m sure he is not making his meds at his dads.the concerns me because he is driving now his much weight will judge gie my sons wishes compared to the his story of ex housssehold, an been in same schools district sine 5th grade and he is stable. My ex is brainwashing him just like he did with my oldest son. I keep him informed on school football etc. Apparenty he his my son practicing football there and I have not agrees to anything. I don’t feel changing schools during junior yr would be good for him since he has ADHD and is doing so well. Ex is playing same game as before that cost him custody. His petition is based on verbal/physical/emotional abuse. He just has a physical 3 weeks ago and no signs of abuse. In tried calling police t enforce custody and visitation order they said call attorney . I got first part of summer which I lost because ex did not send him home now he legally can not be charged with contempt Cruz its hiss part of summer now. I admit I ma be strict but when you just don’t have no support from ex but negative support it is difficult at times., I let son see his father when ever he wants . I haven’t seen my son since school was let out.

    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 an hour to/from School because she’s Varsity Cheerleader & doesn’t want to change schools. Her father doesn’t discipline her. This week she was caught cheating off another students work; it wasn’t a test. If it had been a text she would have automatically been kicked off the Team. She left because I took her phone due to backtalk, VERY disrespectful and her grades. The very next day her Father bought her a new iPhone 6s. Please tell me there’s something I can do. We live in Alabama and share joint legal custody with visitation. He gets her every other weekend Fri 5p-Sun 5p. To my understanding “Joint Legal with Visitation” means we share decisions together regarding her Education, Religion, Medical etc. with his visitation schedule. She lives with me and attends School & Church here, and has her entire life. She has always been an all A’s in School and been top of her class. Now her only A is in ‘PE”. Rest are very low B’s and low C’s; worst grades she has ever had!

    Custody of 17 yr old
    Can I gain custody of my 17 yr old sister if my parents are willing to sign her other because she wants to live with me? How do I go about it?

    im 16 and i live with my older cousin i want to move home with my mother. is wanting to move home because my cousin treats me like a slave literately and treats me like crap emotionally and does not let me visit my mother that often because she does not want her house to get dirty a good enough reason to move home that the court will let me go home?

    I’m 17 and I do not want to live with my mom. I feel as though my friends family and household is stable for me. His parents also want me to move with them. Is is possible that a court would give them all or atleast joint custody? Seeing as though I will be 18 in one year.

    I am about to turn 16. Can these facts apply to ke even though
    My dad is the one that has full custody and not my mom??

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