Legal Question in Family Law in North Carolina

When is a child considered an adult.

How old does a child have to be before they have input in deciding custody? In Mississippi, for example, a child who is 14 years old has the authority to decide which parent he/she wants to live with.

Asked on 12/18/01, 5:01 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Albert Pettigrew Law Offices Ph 228-875-8736

Re: When is a child considered an adult.

On 12/19/01 I received your msg posted 12/19/01. This response is not confidential and is based solely on the facts presented in your email. Also, it is not based on any supporting examination of the law. Instead, this response is based on my general experience, and resulting opinions. No attorney-client relationship is formed by this response.

A child is considered to be an adult at age 21 in Miss. The obligation to support may continue beyond age 21 if the child is in need of support to attend college and shows love and affection for the noncustodial parent.

Age 12 is the statutory age a child can testify about which parent is desired as the custodial parent. However, I have seen a chancellor allow a younger child testify in chambers because he believed the circumstances justified it.

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Answered on 12/19/01, 4:29 am

John Kirby Law Offices of John M. Kirby

Re: When is a child considered an adult.

Under North Carolina law, a child's preference for a parent is "always" valid consideration on the custody decision. At younger ages, however, that is given much less weight. By age 14, for example, the child's wishes would generally be given a lot of weight, but the ultimate test for the Court is the "best interests" of the minor, and therefore the Court could enter a custody Order contrary to the child's wishes. I am aware of no absolute "cut-off" age in NC. (As for the broader question of "when is a child considered an adult," that depends on the context. The age of majority in NC is 18, but of course the drinking age is 21, for example.)

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Answered on 12/19/01, 8:21 am

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