At What Age Can A Child In Pennsylvania Decide Which Parent To Live With?
There is no certain age in Pennsylvania law that a minor child may decide with which parent to live. The Court will decide what’s best for children when the parties cannot and interviews with everyone and consultations with experts may be needed.
We all know that some people never really grow up. Accordingly, age cannot always be what determines how mature a person may be. The same applies to children. Six-year-olds may be wise beyond their years and able to explain the positives and negatives of each parent very clearly. A sixteen-year-old may choose one parent over the other because the chosen parent has fewer rules and/or fails to enforce them.
The judge, therefore, cannot arbitrarily state that, for example, “The kid is 12 and wants to live with mom, so that’s the way it will be”. Mom could have a drug problem or evidence may have been provided that her home is unsafe or unsanitary. Another child might be 14 and choose dad but the court has seen proof that the dad works all day and goes to the bar every night, not getting home until midnight, leaving the child unsupervised.
As you can see, there is no magic age the court will allow to, by itself, decide with whom a child may choose to live. The court, either by directly interviewing a child or relying on the report of a reliable professional (like a child psychologist), may give consideration to the child’s desire, but in the end, the decision will be made with the child’s best interests, not merely the child’s desires, in mind.