Child Custody

At What Age Can A Child Decide Who To Live With In Australia?

The separation of parents of caregivers can happen for a number of reasons. In many cases, compounding issues arise which can result in the breakdown of a marriage or relationship, leaving parents separated and children stuck in the lurch.

According to Adelaide Lawyers, Culshaw Miller, child custody issues are among the most common problems dealt with by family lawyers, and the question of ‘at what age can a child decide who to live with?’ has always been heavily debated. However, the simple answer is that, under Australian law, there is no magic age where a child can choose who they live with until they reach 18 years old.

A Court Will Take A Child’s Wishes Into Account

However, a child’s wishes are never the single deciding factor when it comes to custody arrangements. A court will take into account a number of factors relating to the child, their maturity and their ability to make informed decisions when deciding how much weight to give to their wishes. Some of these factors include:

  • How mature a child is and how this level of maturity has the potential to help them make good decisions.
  • If and how a child has been influenced by one or both of their parents. In many cases, seperated parents will attempt to ‘win’ their children over to their side, potentially thwarting the course of justice.
  • Whether or not a child understands what’s happening. For example, some younger children have a better grasp on reality than older children, and this level of understanding will be taken into account.

A psychologist or counselors report may be used to help the court decide how much weight to give to a child’s wishes.

What’s The Best Way To Deal With A Child Custody Situation?

Unfortunately, children can sometimes get caught in the middle of a dispute between parents, leading to high levels of stress, unhappiness and anxiety. It’s extremely important to make sure that you sit down with your children and talk to them about what’s happening, why you and your partner are separating and what it means for them and the future. Helping your children understand the process can lead to a fairer and better resolution and outcome for all.

A Family Lawyer Can Help You Achieve A Fair Resolution

Using an experienced family lawyer can help you and your children achieve a custody decision that all parties can be satisfied with. The family courts of Australia can be difficult to navigate, and it’s extremely easy to feel overwhelmed and to be tempted to give up if you try to do things on your own.

It’s also important to at least attempt to communicate with your former partner. Remember, you should try and keep your children’s best interests first, even if you’ve had a major disagreement with your ex. Speak to your local family law firm if you’re unsure about how to proceed or need help dealing with a custody dispute.