A common Family law question asked by parents facing a divorce is ‘what is the legal age a child can choose which parent to live with?’. To answer this question in this context, there is no set/standard age child can decide who they want to live with. However, there a factors that need to be considered, one of which is the best interest of the child.
Factors the Court takes into consideration
The court places a greater weight on the child's wishes based on increased understanding, insight and maturity. This enables the court make a decision in the best interest of the child. It is important that the child is protected from psychological or physical harm and from being exposed or subjected to family violence, neglect or abuse.
The court also considers the views expressed by the children. This includes any factors that the court considers to be relevant to the weight given to the child’s views. For instance, if a seven-year-old child is evaluated as showing high levels of maturity and understanding of the conflict between his parents, then the court may place weight on his views. Furthermore, the court has the power to order for “wishes report”. This usually involves a social worker or a Court-based psychologist interviewing the child respecting the child’s wishes.
In summary, there is no specific age at which a child can decide who to live with. The most important thing is the child’s maturity to understand and express their view.