Can A Child Choose Which Parent To Live With?

can a child choose which parent to live with
Can a child choose which parent to live with?  The wishes of the child is certainly a factor the court must consider in deciding which parent will have custody or will be the residential parent for school purposes under a shared parenting plan.  However, there are many factors that courts must consider in child custody cases.  These child custody factors are set forth by Ohio law.  This article will specifically focus on the child's power to make such a decision within this legal framework.

Ohio Law On Can A Child Choose Which Parent To Live With

  Ohio law provides some guidance for the courts to follow.  Let’s take a look at Ohio Revised Code 3109.04 (R.C. 3109.04), which provides guidelines for the court to follow in allocating parental rights and responsibilities.  R.C. 3109.04(B)(2)(b) states that in a divorce, legal separation or annulment proceeding, and in any proceeding pertaining to the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities for the care of a child, the court shall “determine the reasoning ability of the child.”
This section gives guidance for children without sufficient reasoning ability:  “If the court determines that the child does not have sufficient reasoning ability to express the child’s wishes and concern with respect to the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the child, it shall not determine the child’s wishes and concerns with respect to the allocation.”
If the child has sufficient reasoning ability, the court looks to the following:  “If the court determines that the child has sufficient reasoning ability to express the child’s wishes or concerns with respect to the allocation, it then shall determine whether, because of special circumstances, it would not be in the best interest of the child to determine the child’s wishes and concerns with respect to the allocation.  If the court determines that, because of special circumstances, it would not be in the best interest of the child to determine the child’s wishes and concerns with respect to the allocation, it shall not determine the child’s wishes and concerns with respect to the allocation and shall enter its written findings of fact and opinion in the journal.  If the court determines that it would be in the best interest of the child to determine the child’s wishes and concerns with respect to the allocation, it shall proceed to make that determination.”
What does this mean?  Essentially, once the child is determined to have sufficient reasoning ability, the court considers the child’s wishes in light of the primary driving force in child custody cases:  best interests of the child.  Is this a simple answer with a simple process?  No.  Only by properly presenting the evidence to the court can a party call into question the seemingly well-reasoned choice of a child.  Conversely, only by properly presenting the evidence to the court can a party support the well-reasoned choice of a child.

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Does "Can A Child Choose Which Parent To Live With" Apply To You?

 
Attorney Gigiano is a Wooster family law attorney in Medina County, where he fights for the rights of legal custodians and to have legal custody granted to deserving individuals.  He regularly practices in domestic relations courts in Medina, Akron and Wooster.  If you have questions about this or other questions you need answered by an experienced Medina legal custody lawyer in Wadsworth or Orrville divorce lawyer in Barberton, please call Attorney Daniel F. Gigiano at 330-336-3330.  Attorney Gigiano's office is located at 102 Main St., Ste. 200, Wadsworth, Ohio 44281.