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My ex has child custody but my child wants to live with me

When the California family court issues a child custody order, it may be difficult to have it modified within the first couple of years -- and even after that time, a modification claim will need proper motivation. This is to ensure stability in the life of the child. The process of child custody modification is a time-consuming legal process and often best handled by an experienced family law attorney.

In some cases, a child wishes to live with the non-custodial parent, and for parents whose post-divorce relationship allows communication, an agreement may be reached without problems. However, if the custodial parent opposes the child custody modification, it may be up to the family court to make a decision. When children are small at the time of the divorce, custody is typically awarded by the family court, determining the children's best interests. As the children grow older, they may wish to live with the other parent, and most judges may consider a child's preferences.

A judge may listen to the wishes of a child who is regarded old enough and mature enough to express his or her preferences. In cases where children are under the age of 12, the judge may have a private conversation with the child, or use the services of experts to spend time with the child to evaluate his or her wishes. When two or more siblings live separately with the two parents, they may wish to be together. However, the judge will consider the reasons for splitting them in the initial court order.

Regardless of the wishes of the parents or the child, the court's ultimate decision will be based on the best interest of the child. California parents who feel intimidated by the legalities of the child custody modification process may find a consultation with a family law attorney invaluable. After assessing the family's circumstances, the lawyer will suggest a strategy to proceed in pursuing the best possible outcome. Your legal counsel may suggest mediation as a way of reaching mutual agreement and thereby avoiding litigation.

Source:, "Can a child choose which parent to live with after divorce?", Michael Helfand, Oct. 29, 2014

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Victoria S. Linder Law Office
5303 Folsom Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95819

Phone: 916-905-4805
Fax: 916-498-0127
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