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Cathy Meyer

Should a Child be Allowed to Choose Which Parent to Live With After Divorce?

By September 2, 2010

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Question:

I have two children, my son is twelve and my daughter is six. My husband and I are divorcing and my son wants to live with his father. He told me that the reason he wants to live with his Dad is that he doesn't want him to be lonely.

What is your opinion on allowing a child to live where they want after a divorce? Should I be concerned about him being separated from his sister? Am I wrong to think that my son not wanting his Dad to be lonely isn't a good reason for living with his Dad? Will separating him and his sister have a bad effect on them? Should we consult a therapist before making a final decision?

Answer:

My opinion is that parents do what is best for their children. No one understands a child's needs more than the two parents who love the child. When going through a divorce those parents have to be aware of the impact that the divorce will have on the child. As long as parents pay attention to the needs of the child and are able to communicate with each other concerning those needs they will eventually figure what is right for the child.

Have you and your ex-husband been able to talk about the child's reasons for wanting to live with his Dad? If not, you should. As parents, we are responsible for

Comments
September 6, 2010 at 4:57 pm
(1) thomas says:

i have been divorced almost 4 years ago and now my ex wife is withholding my kids .My 14 want to see me so bad but the ex says no and has cut off all communication with me.I live in minnesota and if any one knows of a attorney that would take on i am getting laid off from my job and i am paying child support.

September 6, 2010 at 5:02 pm
(2) Diane says:

Fear of one parent being lonely is not a good reason for a custody decision. Not only is it not reason for who will be taking care of a child, but it gives the child too much responsibility. How each person feels and handles divorce should never even accidentally fall on a child’s shoulders. When my ex husband and I divorced, our oldest was almost twelve and coming from that experience I know how easy it is to think that a 12 year old boy is on his way to growing up, but there are so many ways that a boy that age is growing and changing and what should be considered is that the parent he lives with is able to care for him emotionally and physically as well as having the ability to provide a stable environment. Also, how close each parent is determines how his life would change and that needs to be considered. Would living with one parent over the other impact his education, friends and social aspects. Also, it sounds as though your son feels like he is responsible for taking care of his father and his father needs to let him know that he is okay and that his son should be concerned with growing up, having fun and being an average pre teenage boy. Counseling may be needed to help all of you get through this new stage.

September 7, 2010 at 2:46 pm
(3) Sandy says:

When my ex and I were splitting, our kids had some similar concerns, which they voiced differently to each of us depending on what they thought was safe to say. I know that I grossly underestimated my daughters need for her father. Perhaps your son does not feel safe saying that he would prefer to live with his dad. A counselor might be able to guide your decision and help your son through this transition.

We ultimately came to a shared parenting arrangement where the kids were confident of spend a lot of time with both of us. It’s not 50/50 like my ex wanted, but his time with them is significant and I think the kids are better adjusted for it. If there’s no particular reason why your son shouldn’t be with his dad, maybe this would work for your family too.

May 24, 2013 at 9:36 am
(4) Winston Jenkins says:

In my opinion, children should get a say in which parent they get to live with. Some divorces are caused because a parent may be abusing the child, although this can be solved by suing the offender for child abuse, if it comes to a divorce, the CHILD should get the say of which parent he/she should live wit. Age is a very important factor here, the older the child, the better understanding he/she has and therefore he/she should be able to analyse which parent would take care of him/her better. Therefore if the child is over 12, he/she should be the person that gets to choose which parent they can live with, after all they would know what is best for them

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