Fayetteville, NC asked in Family Law and Child Custody for North Carolina

Q: My daughter is 17 and wants to go live with her stepmother instead of either of us her parents, what are our rights?

Both of us are fit parents, father in the military and I am remarried and work a good job. Her father and stepmother are divorcing after having lived in Germany since she was 8yrs old. They returned recently and her father dropped her off with me in NC and headed off to his next duty station in Colorado. My daughter wants to live with her stepmother and says she is leaving my house in August to go stay with her. While I am the biological parent I do understand I can say no, but I understand she has built a relationship with her stepmom. If I just let her go, does that mean I can be brought to court for abandoning her. I just want her to be happy?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Amanda Bowden Houser
Amanda Bowden Houser
  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Jacksonville, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: As a parent, what makes your child 'happy' should be irrelevant to you or at least be a very secondary concern to what is best for her. At 17 she is a child and children by definition are not competent to determine what is best for them - that is your job. So determine what is best for her and do that. Of course, the likely hard part for you is separating what is best for her from what is best for you. One consideration should be her age. At 17, the absolute most time before she can make the decision herself without your consent is one year. A year is a long time to lose away from your child and likely grounds to not let her go just yet but If she is mere months away from 18, it may be best to let her go. However, presumably you know the situation best and the bottomline is right now, it is your decision - not hers and you likely ought to base your decision more on what is best for her and less on what makes her happy. Best of luck.

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