What if your child wants to live with their other parent?

One of the problems with a divorce is that even when you do everything right, the outcome may not be exactly as you hoped. This can occur in a wide variety of situations, but one man describes a situation that may not be all that uncommon.

He has apparently had primary custody of his daughter since the divorce. She lives with him during the year and spends half the summer with her mother, who lives in another state. After this summer, the teenage daughter has asked if she can go and live with her mother. She is not unhappy living with her father, but claims that a teen “needs her mom.” The father is uncertain what to do.

He says he wants to discuss this with her, as he should. But he should not act on without also consulting with the court. Because it is likely the child’s presence with her parents is still controlled by the custody order or parenting plan put in place by the court at the time of the divorce. While most states, like Missouri, allow a judge to take into consideration a child’s wishes for custody, those wishes are not the only factor a judge must consider.

The father should discuss, in great detail with his daughter how such a change would affect her life. It would mean a new school and the necessity of a new set of friends. It also would need the full assent of the mother, who would be faced with a very different life with her daughter living in her home full time.

There are likely to be financial considerations and such a change could require a modification of any child support order. Even if both parents are cooperative, it is necessary to have a court confirm any such changes to ensure that they are enforceable.

With the parents in different states, it may be necessary to work with an attorney on the modification of the custody order, as cross-jurisdictional situations like this can create many additional problems if they are not done correctly and something goes wrong later.

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