Child Custody Laws: When Can A Child Decide Custody?

advice on divorceQuestion:

Do child custody laws allow for the child to make a custody determination?

My ex-wife is the custodial parent of our daughter who has repeatedly said she wants to permanently live with me.

Do I need to wait until she is a certain age in order to modify child custody?

Answer:

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 advice on child custody laws in your state.

Your child does not have to be a certain age in order for you to attempt to modify child custody. You can file a Motion to Modify Custody at any time after the order in place has been entered.

Where I practice, proceedings to modify custody are based on either “changed circumstances” or “newly discovered evidence.”

Changed circumstances means that you would need to show that since your divorce was entered there has been a permanent, substantial, and material change of conditions which directly effects the best interests of your children and that they would be substantially better off if the requested changes are made.

There is also an increased emphasis on the child’s preference. Under Oklahoma law, the court may consider the child’s input if it is found that “the child is of sufficient age to form and intelligent preference.”

While the law provides a rebuttable presumption that child of 12 can form an intelligent preference, it does necessarily bar a younger child from forming one either.

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 and Cordell mens divorce attorney, including Christian D. Barnard, an Associate Attorney in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, office, please contact Cordell & Cordell.

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