As your child gets older, they are likely to have an opinion on how they’re living their life. They may want to have a bigger bedroom or be annoyed that they have to live in an apartment when their friends have houses.
These are normal growing pains, but they can be heightened if you and your child’s other parent divorce. As your circumstances change, you may find that your child is increasingly unhappy or frustrated, making setting up custody arrangements difficult.
Many parents recognize that the complete loss of control a child has under these circumstances can play a role in their attitude and actions. That’s why they may think that a child who is in their teens is old enough to choose where they live and that doing so will help make the divorce easier for them.
The truth is that your child doesn’t get to make the final decision on custody. You, the other parent and the judge presiding over your case will determine the custody schedule. Your child will be expected to adhere to it.
That being said, if your child is having difficulty adjusting to a custody schedule, you may be able to seek a modification that will help them adapt, since that could be in their best interests.
Should your child get a say in the custody arrangements?
Utah law requires the court to do what is in the best interests of your child. However, the judge may interview your child to see what their wishes are and to see if those are in line with their best interests. Your child’s wishes will be heard, but they won’t necessarily change the outcome of a custody case.
If you and your ex-spouse will set up a schedule without the court’s help, then you may consider talking to your child and determining what they’d prefer. As your child gets older, it may be a good idea to hear what they have to say, since it may help keep them compliant with the schedule. For instance, a 16-year-old who doesn’t like staying with their mother may already be driving and regularly refuse to go there to visit, so it is worth sitting down, having a discussion about the schedule you’re planning on and working out a solution that works best for your child.