You have a teenaged child and are planning on going through divorce. To you, you believe that your child should be old enough to understand. You don’t think this should have a significant impact, especially because they’re nearly old enough to go live on their own.
The truth is, though, that children and minors of all ages do need their parents’ support, even during their later years of development. A 16- or 17-year-old child may understand your reason for getting a divorce, but they still have their own questions and concerns that you need to be able to help them with. It’s your job to make this process as simple as possible for them, so they can feel more relaxed and confident about their role. This include allowing them to choose where they’re going to live.
In Pennsylvania, older children may be able to choose where they want to live, which is something to keep in mind. They may go to speak with the judge before a hearing or be allowed in the courtroom during the hearing, depending on their age. The older your child is, the more likely it is that they will be able to discuss their reasons for wanting to live with one parent or adjust a custody schedule. A judge will often go with the child’s preference unless there is a reason not to allow what the child has asked for.
For instance, if your 16-year-old daughter wants to live with her mother, the judge may agree if there is no reason not to allow it. Similarly, if your 17-year-old son has decided to live with you, then the judge may agree as well. You and your ex-spouse’s preferences and requests also play a role in the decision, but if your child speaks up, a judge is much more likely to listen.