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meeny, miny, moe…
a child choose which parent to live with?
parents involve their children in custody, residency and access matters hoping
the opinion of the child sways the outcome. At other times, children may seek to
initiate a change themselves. The child’s desire may be due to conflict with a
parent; seeking to be closer to a particular school or friends; or even seeking
to avoid reasonable parental expectations looking instead to live with the
parent with whom they have greater albeit inappropriate freedoms.
Thus children sometimes wonder about their influence in such matters too.
custody, residency and access decisions are matters for parents to decide. When
they are unable to reach a decision between themselves, parents may turn to a
counsellor for guidance. If that is unsuccessful, parents may then turn to a
mediator and if that is unsuccessful, they may turn to the court.
the age of twelve is considered a turning point when the opinion of a child may
begin to truly give added weight to these decisions. However, there is nothing
magical or automatic about that number. Maturity of the child, the situation and
parental influence will also be important factors, not to mention the needs of
the child and the respective parent’s ability to meet those needs
appropriately and in a timely fashion. Therefore, being minors, the decision
still remains in the hands of adults, be they the parents, professionals or Courts.
are always cautioned against involving their children in custody, residency or
the event a parent influences a child, the child may feel in a bind, unable to
resist the influence of the parent and not wanting to undermine their
relationship with the other parent. Hence influencing a child only adds to their
psychological and emotional distress living between their separated parents. In
these circumstances, parents must ask themselves if what they are doing is truly
for the child or their own interest.
the child’s perspective there can be all sorts of legitimate reasons to alter
their residency between separated parents. However the child may not be privy as
to how the custody, residency or access decisions were arrived at in the first
place. Hence their view of the situation may not be fully informed. So while
children may form a reasonable argument in view of their desire, it still
remains between the parents to discuss and reach a decision.
child initiated or parent initiated, parents are encouraged to sit down with
each other and the older child and if unable to resolve matters between
themselves, consult a counsellor, mediator or lawyer to aid in their decision
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
20 Suter Crescent, Dundas, ON, Canada L9H 6R5 Tel: (905) 628-4847 Email: email@example.com