Can Kids Choose Which Parent to Live With After Divorce?

In Missouri, it’s a common but mistaken belief that minor children are legally allowed to decide where they want to live when their parents’ divorce. The reality is more complex.

After asking numerous questions and weighing evidence and opinions, a family court judge will award legal and physical custody based on what is in the best interest of the minor child. The judge will take the child’s preference into consideration, but it is not the determining factor.

Other considerations include:

  • the parents’ wishes
  • established child caretaking roles during the marriage
  • ability to provide a healthy environment
  • any physical or emotional challenges
  • cooperative attitude towards involving the other parent, and
  • the child’s likelihood of adjusting to future living arrangements

In the vast majority of cases in Missouri, the court will award joint custody because of demonstrated benefits of children spending significant time with both parents. Joint custody does not necessarily mean 50-50 equal time with each parent, however.

Court-ordered custody agreements remain in effect until children turn 18. At that age, kids are legally permitted to decide for themselves where to live.

For more information, be sure to read our blog Joint Physical Custody: Where Will Kids Live After Divorce?

With a combined 30 years in family law, the attorneys at Jones Family Law Group, LLC, will provide the legal guidance you need. Contact Jones Family Law Group, LLC today for any questions or to set up a consultation.