Legal Question in Family Law in Massachusetts

Can a Child Choose the Custodial Parent

Rumor has it that a child of 10 or 11 may choose the parent they would like to live with. Is this true??

Asked on 1/12/99, 9:22 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Alan Pransky Law Office of Alan J. Pransky
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Re: Can a Child Choose the Custodial Parent

Minors don't have the ability to choose the parent they live with. However, the court should listen to the

concerns and desires of a mature child when making a custody decision. As some age, the child will

make the decision by themselves. This occurs when the child will runaway as an alternative to the

court's decision. At 10 or 11 the child may be too immature to contribute much to the court's decision.

THIS COMMUNICATION DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE CREATION OF AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT

RELATIONSHIP. Legal rights vary greatly depending on specific facts, and it is impossible on the basis

of the recitation of a few facts to determine whether or not an individual has a viable case, what is the

full range of options, or what limitations exist which may bar an individual's potential claims. ON THE

BASIS OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED TO ME, I RECOMMEND THAT YOU PROMPTLY

CONSULT AN ATTORNEY TO DETERMINE THE SCOPE OF LEGAL RECOURSE, IF ANY, YOU

MAY HAVE. YOU SHOULD NOT RELY ON ANYTHING I HAVE STATED AS ADVICE TO DO

ANYTHING OTHER THAN TO CONSULT AN ATTORNEY TO DISCUSS FULLY AN APPROPRIATE

COURSE OF ACTION.

Alan Pransky

Law Office of Alan J. Pransky

20 Eastbrook Road


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1/31/99, 10:22 pm
Thomas Workman Law Offices of Thomas Workman
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Re: Can a Child Choose the Custodial Parent

The court will award custody to the person who best serves the interest of the child. that is not always a parent (but most of the time it is). This is not who the child says they want to live with. At age 10, a child can be manipulated to say one thing or another, by a parent. In addition, they could live with the parent who "gives them the biggest allowance", and that is not in the child's best interest.

Depending on the circumstances of the dispute, the maturity of the child (and the parents, too), the Court may inquire as to the child's wishes. They do not have to, and they will listen carefully to the reasons, if they do. This is not a chance to bribe the child into saying they want to live with dad or mom. The Courts understand how this situation can be abused, and they have seen most situations before, many times.

If it is important for the child's wishes to be taken into consideration, you can ask that an attorney be appointed to represent the child. The Court may ask you to pay for this (or ask both parties to pay). The attorney will represent the child's interests, and could help get the child's viewpoint heard. This is rare, to be candid. There would have to be a good reason to do all of this.

To understand what should be done in your particular situation, you should contact an attorney to get legal advice. Only an attorney representing you can evaluate the case and give you legal advice. My comments are not legal advice.

Thomas Workman

Law Offices of Thomas Workman

41 Harrison Street, Taunton, MA


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1/26/99, 4:26 pm

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