Why You Shouldn't Let Preteens Decide Their Custody Arrangement During Divorce

30 January 2015
 Categories: , Blog


Older children (typically those at least 12 or 14 years old depending on the jurisdiction) may be allowed to choose their own custody arrangements. However, preteens cannot legally choose which parent to live with after divorce. This is because children can,

Be Bribed

Children, even if they seem mature and adult-like, are easier to bribe than adults. It might be that the other parent has promised him or her "a gift". The gift may be a car, or even a new computer – yes, children can be that impressionable.

This may happen consciously for older children who want to have a "good life." Younger children may be influenced unconsciously according to the material things they have in the other parent's house.  Ideally, it is the money that should follow the children (to where their needs are likely to be met best), and not the other way round.

Be Threatened

Apart from bribery, threats also work very well with kids. This is even more likely to be the case if there has been some form of abuse or physical violence from one parent. A parent may threaten a child into going to live with him or her, and the facts of the situation may only be known when it is too late.

Choose a Parent They Feel Needs Them Most

Your child may choose the parent that he or she feels needs him or her most. Children can be very sympathetic, and if they feel that one parent feels sadder than the other when they are not around, then they are likely to choose this parent. In effect, they will be seeking (consciously or unconsciously) to meet the emotional needs of this parent. This is not good for a child's development because it is akin to the child parenting the parent, instead of the other way round.

A child may also choose one parent due to the expectation of living a new and interesting life. This is usually the case if this parent hasn't been around much because he travels a lot or lives in a different state or country. A child's imagination can run wild with life in exotic places, but the fantasy seldom mirrors the reality.

Therefore, you shouldn't be tempted to let your children decide their custody arrangements when you divorce. You can take their views into consideration if you are going through a collaborative divorce, but you (and the law) have the last say on the custody arrangements.

For more information, contact a business such as Hitchings L Timothy.