Can my child decide who they want to live with?
Question & AnswerCan my child decide who they want to live with?
1. Talk to your child
It’s important never to pressure or try to convince your child to live with you. Children should be kept out of the conflict between the adults as much as possible.
Since children usually do not want to hurt or disappoint a parent, it can be difficult for a child to tell a parent that they would prefer to live with the other parent. But, there are times when a child has very strong views of their own about who they want to live with.
If your child is older and emotionally mature, you can ask them what they want. If you think they’re able to give their views and wishes freely, you can discuss their choices with them. For example, how much time they want to spend with each parent and who they want making decisions for them.
As children get older, they often want to spend more time with their friends. It makes things easier for your child if you can be flexible and work with their plans.
Listen to your child’s reasons. Don’t make them feel like they are taking sides in the conflict or choosing one parent over the other.
If your child finds it difficult to speak to you about their views and wishes, let them know they can speak with someone they trust to get help talking to you. Some of the people they can speak with are:
- a teacher or school counsellor
- a social worker or therapist
- their doctor
- a religious leader
Try not to get family members involved when talking to your child about their preferences. This often leads to more problems or conflict. You and your partner may have an easier time hearing from a neutral, third-party about your child’s views and wishes.