When Can My Child Tell the Court Where They Want to Live?


When Can My Child Tell the Court Where They Want to Live?

In Pennsylvania, there is no particular age at which a child can dictate which parent they will reside with; however, the custody statute requires the court to consider the preference of the child so long as that preference is mature and well-reasoned.

The statute indicates that “the well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child’s maturity and judgment” is to be considered when the court makes a custody determination; therefore, age is important because the older a child is, the more weight a preference will carry. If a younger child is particularly mature for their age, their preference may carry some weight. If a child is a teenager, their preference would carry more weight since it is reasonable to think that their preference would be more well-reasoned and mature than a younger child.

The child’s preference is one of sixteen factors that the court must consider, so it will not be the end-all-be-all; however, if the child voices a preference that is well-reasoned, it should carry some weight. If a child tells a judge that they want to live with one parent or the other because they are allowed to stay up late and eat junk food, that would of course not be well-reasoned and would therefore not be given much weight.

If your child has a preference with regard to the custodial schedule, and if they are old enough or mature enough to voice that preference in a manner that is well-reasoned, the court will speak to them and their preference may influence the outcome of your custody case.

When can my child tell the court where they want to live? There is no specific age in Pennsylvania when a child is able to voice their preference; however, the statute requires the court to consider the preference of a child if that preference is mature and well-reasoned. If you need assistance with your custody matter, call us at 610-892-3877

Pearl shot with Teresa Mallon and Shayne

About the author

About Alicia Fastman

Alicia Fastman graduated from Hofstra University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, then went on to complete her Juris Doctorate at the Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, DE. Alicia graduated from law school with pro bono distinction, completed a Certificate in Criminal Law, and focused her intensive studies within the fields of litigation and trial advocacy. Alicia joined LaMonaca Law in April of 2011 and is a Partner at the firm. She was selected as a Top Lawyer in Main Line Magazine in 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019 in the areas of Family Law and Divorce and has been named as a Best Lawyer in the areas of Adoption and Trial in the Delaware County Daily Times. Alicia is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, and is a member of the Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and Delaware County Bar Associations. Alicia resides in Delaware County with her dog, Leonard. In her time outside of the courtroom or office, she enjoys creating art, listening to podcasts, and spending time with friends and family.