What You Need to Know About a Child’s Right to Choose During a Divorce

Many parents focus on their own personal goals and priorities as they approach divorce, and it is easy to forget that children have many rights as well. In fact, children may be able to control the outcome of a divorce to a significant degree. This is especially true if they reach a certain age and they are able to express their opinion clearly during a custody battle. But what exactly do you need to know about a child’s right to choose during a divorce in Georgia?


If you have questions or concerns about this topic, your best bet is to get in touch with a qualified, experienced divorce attorney in Georgia. These legal professionals can explain how a child’s right to choose may affect your divorce. They can also guide you towards a positive outcome by utilizing their experience, qualifications, and resources. With their help, you can strive towards a parenting plan and a custody arrangement that benefits the entire family. 


When Can a Child Choose in Georgia?


According to Georgia law, a child has the right to choose which parent they live with at the age of 14. If the child has already reached the age of 14 when the divorce takes place, a judge will listen to their opinion and grant a custody award that reflects their choice. Note that a judge cannot choose whether they listen to a child of this age, as they are legally required to do so under Georgia law. 


If a child reaches the age of 14 after the initial custody award is granted, the parenting plan will be modified at this date to reflect their choice. However, a child cannot keep changing their mind constantly. The law states that once a child makes their decision, they must stick with it for at least two years before making a new choice. In addition, the best interests of the child must still be considered. If a child is making a choice that clearly goes against their best interests, a judge may step in and override their decision. 


When Must a Judge Consider the Child’s Opinion?


A judge will consider the child’s opinion if they are between the ages of 11 and 14. Although they are not old enough to make the decision on their own at this stage, a judge will still listen to their opinion. The child’s desires will not be “controlling” in the same way as they would be at the age of 14, however. 


Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you have been searching the Georgia area for a qualified, experienced family law attorney, look no further than Lankford & Moore Law. With our help, you can strive to give your children the best possible life as you approach a divorce. When a child exercises their right to choose during a custody battle, it is essentially out of your hands. However, there are a number of other steps you can take to ensure a favorable custody award. Book your consultation today to learn more.

I realized the true function of a lawyer was to unite parties riven asunder. The lesson was so indelibly burnt into me that a large part of my time during the twenty years of my practice as a lawyer was occupied in bringing about private compromises of hundreds of cases. I lost nothing thereby — not even money, certainly not my soul.

Mahatma Gandhi

Lankford & Moore Law in Downtown Lawrenceville

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