In a custody battle can kids choose where they live?

Dear Liz,
My husband and I are getting a divorce and I am really worried about the child custody battle. Is it true that kids can choose where they will live at the age of 12?
– Worried Mom

Dear Worried Mom,

As a married mother of two (and one on the way) your questions hits home to me. I cannot fathom the dread of having to deal with a custody battle or what that must feel like for the kids involved. But, to put your mind at ease, it turns out that Maine law does not let kids make major life choices like that. I’ll cut to the chase and let my pal Amy tackle this one since divorce law is sort of her thing. Best of luck!

Here is what Amy had to say:

Not really. Your 12-year-old son cannot choose to live at mom’s house because she lets him play x-box all night or your 12-year-old daughter cannot choose to live at dad’s house because mom won’t let her stay out past curfew. This is a common misconception, but it is not true.

Maine law gives a judge more than a dozen factors to consider in determining custody but they are all designed to reach a decision based on the best interests — primarily safety and well-being — of the child. One of those factors is the child’s age. Another is the child’s preference if they are old enough to express a meaningful preference, but that preference is only one factor.

Child custody battles are very time consuming and emotionally draining for parents and children alike.  If a child custody battle is in your future, I strongly suggest you consult with a family law lawyer.

Good luck!

~ Liz