Monday, August 13, 2018

Can Your Child Choose Where to Live?

By: Alicia M. Bianchi

As family law practitioners, we are frequently asked “when can my child choose where he/she wants to live?” The short answer – they cant. Or, he/she can choose when they’re 18. Although children are not given an explicit right to choose, the child’s preference is one best interest factor the court must consider when determining custody and/or parenting time. MCL 722.23i.

How does the Court determine the child’s preference?

Your assigned Judge will hold a meeting with your child, called an in camera interview, in chambers. A court staff member is also present. The Judge will talk to your child and determine if the child is of sufficient age and maturity to state a preference and the Judge will ask your child what his or her preference is.

A Judge is limited to asking only questions that are reasonably related to the preference of the child and the Judge cannot engage in fact-finding in chambers. Molloy v. Molloy, 247 Mich. App. 348, 351 (2001). This is your child’s chance to be heard and this conversation is confidential. The Judge will not disclose the preference to the parties.

Keep in mind that preference is only one of the 12 best interest factors that the court considers when determining custody and parenting time.

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