Can My Children Decide Whom They Want To Live With After My Divorce?
In the state of Georgia, children over the age of 11 have legal rights when it comes to whom they will live with after their parents divorce. Starting at age 11, a child can file an election/affidavit with the court indicating which parent he or she prefers to live with. The judge will then strongly consider the child’s wishes in the custody determination. Once the child turns 14, his or her custody election becomes presumptive. This means unless the child’s best interests are jeopardized, the judge will allow the child to choose which parent he or she wants to live with.
It is important to note that children can only change their elections once every two years.
When children wish to make an election as to whom they will live with, it is not uncommon for the judge to privately interview them. In these instances, the judge will make sure that the children understand their choices and that they have not faced any threats or wrongful pressure from either parent.
In highly contested child custody cases, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the children. This legal representative is not associated with either parent. Instead, the job of a guardian ad litem is to investigate the family circumstances and advocate for the best interests of the children.
Learn About Your Children’s Legal Rights. Contact Us.
If your children wish to make their own custody elections, it is important to understand that this is a very difficult position for them to be in. Whether your children’s choice is to live with you or your spouse, the attorneys at Daniels & Rothman can help you understand the applicable laws. When there are extenuating circumstances, we can also help you fight against your children’s elections in order to protect their best interests. Reach out to our Athens custody lawyers at 706-621-5166 to learn more.