My son wants to live with my ex, can I stop this?

If you currently have custody in Michigan, your child’s preference does not automatically mean you must comply with that preference. You need not turn your son’s residence over to the other parent based on his wants. Rather, the other parent would file a petition with the court, asking for a change in custody based on your son’s stated preference.

The court would then decide based on all relevant circumstances, including, possibly the child’s stated preference.

Court considers child’s reasonable preference

However, even if there is a future petition that includes your son’s preference, the court need only consider the child’s preference if it is reasonable and if the court believes your child is old enough to express his or her own preference. The court could determine that a stated preference is not actually the child’s preference because the boy is not old enough to have come to such a preference. Perhaps, a court could decide, the stated preference is really the other parent’s preference, and the child has been subject to coaching or persuasion to state it is his desire.

Reasonableness considers age and maturity

The judge will consider the age and maturity of your son when determining if his preference is reasonable. The court is aware that as children grow older they better understand the situation of the court proceedings. It will allow the child to express his desire, but the court will not allow the child to legally choose unless he is 18 years old. Only the court can make the legal decision.

The court will also look at the child’s history of being reasonable in his preferences, if there is a history of expression. The judge will also consider the timing of the preference. Did the child recently spend a lot of time with or away from the other parent?

Lastly, although the judge will consider your son’s reasonable preference, that does not require he rule in favor of that preference. Rather, the judge will consider all of the other relevant circumstances that go towards the best interests of the child when it comes to with whom, and where, he should be living full time.

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