If you are getting divorced and have an older child, they may have strong views about who they would like to live with. When examining custody, a family judge can consider your child’s wishes – if the judge believes that what the child wants is in their best interests.
The closer your child is to 18 years old – that’s the age of the majority in Ontario – the more you say they are likely to be on custody matters.
How custody decisions are made
Children should never be pressured to live with one parent or another. This decision should be made in the best interest. Older children may have opinions and preferences about the changes that will affect them as a result of a divorce. When the child is old enough, it is important to hear these views and allow them to express their views. A judge may need evidence or testimony from a child and may ask to speak to them alone or with an attorney present.
However, a child’s preference isn’t the only thing a court will consider. When making a custody decision, a judge will consider the key factors that affect the child’s best interests. This includes things like:
- The relationship the child has with each parent
- All the plans that each parent can have for parenting the child
- What kind of family life did the child have?
- How fit it is when one parent acts as a parent
- The emotional ties between each parent and the child
In any case, a court will rarely issue a custody or access order for a child who is 16 years of age or older.
Dealing with the uncertainty of maintaining custody of your child can be a tumultuous experience. A skilled family lawyer can help you understand your rights – and create the best possible case for you to keep your child in your life.