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When does a child's choice affect custody determinations?

As children grow up in Georgia, they become more mature and intelligent. They also start making decisions on their own, both good and bad. This can be frustrating for parents during a child's teenage years, but at the same time, as children get older, they have a better understanding of what works best for them. This is true whether the parents are together or not.

Children also have different relationships with each parent. If parents are divorcing, children may have an opinion about which parent they would like to primarily live with after the divorce. Ultimately, a child custody order will determine when the child will be with each parent, but arriving at the order is based on analyzing a number of factors, including the child's wishes if they are old enough.

As such, the question is, when is a child old enough to have input in where they live after a divorce? When a child is at least 11, but not 14, a judge, when determining what is in the child's best interest, can consider the child's preference.

However, when a child is 14 or older, their preference becomes presumptive, unless the judge determines that the child's preference is not in the best interests of the child. So, the child's preference is not the final determination, but it carries a lot of weight in it.

Many parents divorce in Georgia. They also divorce at various times in their children's lives. As part of the divorce, a child custody determination must be made based on what is in the best interests of the child. Part of the determination is the child's preference and the older the child is, the more the child's preference will be considered in the determination. These are fact specific determinations though, and experienced attorneys may be a useful resource.

Source:, "Georgia Code Title 19. Domestic Relations § 19-9-3," accessed on May 22, 2017

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