When parents separate, decisions need to be made about the care arrangements for their child or children. Sometimes the parents decide themselves. Sometimes they can’t agree and ultimately a Judge will make that decision based on evidence before the Court.
A question commonly asked by separated parents is “Can the kids decide?”
Perhaps the reason why there is so much uncertainty about this, is that there is no specific age at which a child is determined to be, by law, capable of making decisions about their care arrangements.
In some circumstances, the children’s views will not be considered at all. In other circumstances, the children’s views may be given some consideration, or even weighted heavily. For example, provided they hold a level of cognitive capacity and maturity relative to their age, the views expressed by a 16 year old would inevitably be given greater weight than that of a 6 year old.
There are various factors that are considered in determining whether the child or children’s views are to be considered, including but not limited to:
- Their age; and/or
- Whether they are mature enough to properly understand the impact of implementing an arrangement in accordance with their views; and/or
- Whether their views appear to be held independently, or whether the child appears to have been persuaded by either parent, or another person.
Every family circumstance is unique. It is important that independent legal advice is obtained; from an experienced family law Solicitor, specific to your circumstances.