As children grow older, they mature and have more opinions about what they want to do. However, parents still have legal authority over them until they turn 18 years old. This means that parents have the final say on decisions made for their children.
This is true when decisions are made regarding the custody and parenting time of two parents who are living separately. There are many people who believe that children have the final say on which parent they will live with once they get to a certain age, whether that be 12 years old, 14 years old or another age. However, this is not true in Pennsylvania.
How children’s preferences affect child custody determinations
Children do not have the power to determine which parent will have custody or how much time they will spend with either parent. However, their preferences are one of the factors that judges will consider when making child custody and parenting time decisions. Their opinions will carry more weight in the decision as the children grow older and more mature because they have a better idea what is in their best interests. But, ultimately, the judge or the parents, if they reach an agreement, still have the final say on which parent will have custody and when the children will be with each parent.
Child custody and parenting time decisions are very fact-specific decisions in Pennsylvania. There are many factors used to determine what is in the children’s best interests. The children may have strong opinions about which parent they want to live with, but children do not always use the best logic for why they want to live with a particular parent. Experienced attorneys understand the factors used to determine custody, including the preferences of children, and may be able to guide one through the process.