Hello to all.
I have what would seem to be a simple question. I've been divorced since 2001 and have had custody of my 2 children 9yrs & 13yrs every weekend since then. I have heard that once chidren reach the age of 13yrs they can decide where they live... Does anyone know if this is true?
Yes Doc, perhaps you're right & I should take a step forward & speak about it to my ex, however, because of my 9yr old daughter I don't want to create friction unnecessarily. Friction with my ex and any distancing from my daughter or between siblings.
Remember that children - especially teenagers - may start using this in ways that aren't good for them or their parents e.g. "My other parent will let me stay up late/ignore homework/ eat at McDonalds every night/have more pocket money/stay out with friends" etc. They may also be pretty confused about what they want or trying to say what they think the parent wants to hear. They love both parents but are also uncertain with all the insecurities and doubts of growing up. This isn't to say children shouldn't choose - but they may be too wrapped up in their own needs to think things through properly. Love for children is easy enough. Consistency and firmness are tricky. Letting go as children grow up is really difficult.
Children who are capable of forming their own views have the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting them, giving due weight in "accordance with the age and maturity of the child." In recent court cases a 9 year olds opinion was acted on and a 14 year olds wasn't.
I think you are correct in trying to minimise friction and considering the impact of separating sibblings, which might be seen as not being in the child's 'best interest.'
Also as Athene says teenagers can be confused and confusing. They might align with one parent (usually the one who is more likely to deliver what they want) one week and the other the next. It's very sad but it's not uncommon for 13 year olds to miss the NRP, ask for a change in living arrangements only to discover they miss the other parent and want to move back within a year. The problem with this is that emotionally they're focussing on being with parents when in development terms they need to be focussing on not being with their parents (IYCWIM) and developing their own relationships.