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Can your child pick which parent has custody in Indiana?

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2024 | Child Custody

Whether you’re seeking shared parenting or full custody of your child after your divorce, you may have a battle on your hands – and your child may also have some strong opinions on the issue.

How much does the child’s wishes matter? When the parents don’t agree, it’s the state – in the form of the family court judge – who makes the final decision about custody issues. However, that doesn’t mean that the court won’t at least consider your child’s wishes.

The age of your child is a big factor

The court can consider input from a child of any age, but more weight is given to the opinions of a child who is at least 14 years of age. At that point, a teenager is usually able to fully articulate their reasoning for the choice, which is also important. 

A child who wants to live with one parent because that parent “has no rules” is less likely to make a good impression on the court than a child who wants to live with a certain parent because that means they won’t have to change schools or their social group.

Even then, the child’s preferences aren’t the only factor the court must consider. The court will also consider the wishes of the parents, the child’s relations with each parent, the mental and physical health of all parties and the child’s relationships with their siblings or other people in their lives. 

In reality, all custody decisions are decided based on what’s actually in the child’s best interests – not what any one person wants. Ideally, parents will always negotiate custody with that idea in mind. If you’re at an impasse with your co-parent, however, seeking legal guidance would be wise.