“My son is 12 years old. He told me he wants to live with me now. I’ve heard that when kids turn 12 they can choose for themselves. Is that right?”
There are no steadfast rules, although it’s highly unlikely a child’s views (no matter what age) will ever be the sole determinant for Court Orders.
As a child ages and matures, the Court will listen (more and more) to what the child has to say. However, the Judge will always have a range of other considerations to factor in to his/her decision.
“How does my son speak to the Judge? Does he come into Court with us?”
Children are not permitted in the court room. To canvas a child’s views, the Court can appoint an Independent Children’s Lawyer (a lawyer who will interview your son and represent his interests in the court proceedings) or a family consultant (a person appointed to interview the child, parents and other interested persons, and then prepare a special report for the Court).
“My son is really upset about all this. I showed him the court papers so he can see I’m trying to help him. Is that okay?”
It is best not to expose children to the parental dispute, which includes discussing with them the court proceedings or attempting to elicit from them their views or preferences for the parenting arrangements.