Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In Georgia, A Child Must be 14 to Have the Right to Select the Parent With Whom He or She Desires to Live

A frequent custody question parents and young children ask is the age a judge will permit a child to decide which parent the child can live. Of course, each state is different. In Georgia, at least, the age where a judge will listen to the child's wishes is 14.

More specifically, under the Georgia Code, once a child obtains the age of 14, the child shall have the right to select the parent with whom he or she desires to live. The child's selection for purposes of custody shall be presumptive unless the parent so selected is determined not to be in the best interests of the child. The parental selection by a child who has reached the age of 14 may, in and of itself, constitute a material change of condition or circumstance in any action seeking a modification or change in the custody of that child; provided, however, that such selection may only be made once within a period of two years from the date of the previous selection and the best interests of the child standard shall apply.

On the other hand, when the child has reached the age of 11 but not 14 years, the judge shall consider the desires and educational needs of the child in determining which parent shall have custody. The judge shall have complete discretion in making this determination, and the child's desires shall not be controlling.

As a result, if a non-custodial parent in Georgia has tweens or young teenagers, he can attempt to change custody during the 11-13 year old period. However, the parent should have evidence that he will be the better parent in meeting the child's educational needs.