For a family, nothing is harder than divorce; but for a parent, nothing is harder than sharing your child 50 / 50. These days it is common to meet someone, if not several people who have been through divorce, which means gone are the days of believing that divorce completely ruins a child’s life. Today research focuses on what facets of the transition might be most challenging for a child; living arrangements? School? New families?
What do you do when your child wants to live with your ex after the divorce?
Legal systems play a role in deciding what is ‘best’ for the child. Daily interaction with both parents is still proven to have the most successful outcomes for children, but what many parents don’t expect is what their child actually has to say.
For a parent going through divorce, hearing your child say they want to live with your ex can be one of the most surprising and challenging pills to swallow. So, before you jump out into the deep end unknowingly, continue reading to learn what to expect when your child wants to live with your ex.
Custody, co-parenting, & parental responsibility
If you are unfamiliar with divorce- which most first-time divorcees are, legal jargon often just makes the process more difficult. Custody plays a significant role when it comes to divorce, and we can assure you that no matter how many episodes of Judge Judy you’ve watched, you’re no expert on custody. This is because custody includes the large umbrella of other terms including legal custody, sole custody, physical custody, joint legal custody, joint physical custody, and more.
For the purpose of this article, the three you need to understand are legal custody, physical custody, and joint physical custody. Legal custody is the court’s mandate that one parent has the say to make legal decisions that impact the child. Physical custody is the actual living situation of the child, and joint physical custody means both parents are granted the right for their child to live with them. While some parents believe that schedules that become too hectic with both parents will negatively impact the child, research shows that in fact, daily interaction- even if it involves some ‘running around’ has the most positive results for children of divorce.
Your child’s voice
In most scenarios if the father is present, active, and acknowledges the child- and of course no maltreatment is involved, custody is granted fairly. Most states and court systems strive for 50 / 50 custody whenever possible. However, if the child is over the age of 12, he/ she does have a say, and this aspect of the law surprises most parents.
A child under the age of 12 is not asked, however a child over the age of 12 is invited to the hearing and can speak about what they know of the break-up. They may also ask the court to give responsibility of their care to one parent. Keeping in mind this is only asking, and the court still has final say, but it can play a significant role in the court’s decision. On the other hand, even if the court decides equal legal and physical custody, the child may still ask you, the parent, if they can live with your ex full-time, and these are words that no parent is ever prepared to hear.
How to cope
Whether the court themselves deals it, or the child requests it after the trial, many parents face a tough decision when their child wants to live with their ex. The short answer is, after all they have been through, how can you refuse?
If the living conditions are ideal, the ex and ex’s potential spouse are caring, if all circumstances are normal and suitable for your child, you may have to accept their wishes.
Don’t consider that your child doesn’t love you anymore, perhaps they just feel more comfortable after such a big change in their life. Don’t consider your ties to be broken, now is the time to make the bond even stronger- perhaps you’ll change their mind after some time, or at the very least your child will have the most positive and loving life and experience thereafter. You also cannot blame your ex in this scenario. Just remember that your child didn’t have a say in your divorce, so at least give them a say in this.
If you are in the process of divorcing and are facing custody issues or need to modify an agreement, a Divorce and Family Law Attorney can help. It is always best for the child or children to maintain a relationship with both of his or her parents.
At Rappleye & Rappleye we handle all aspects of legal issues, including: sole, joint, termination and adoption, as well as grandparents rights. Our Divorce and Family Law Firm has been serving the residents of Jackson, MI for over 60 years, with a solid history of success. Let us help you in your family law case, and we will put our experience to work for you!