Clovis, CA asked in Divorce, Family Law, Child Custody and Child Support for California

Q: I’m 16, my mom has had full custody of me but I was wondering how I can move in with my dad instead.

she’s had full custody of me since i was 7/8 but since i’m 16 do i get to choose? she’s allowed him to have visitation without getting the court involved since 2021. im very unhappy here and she’s very toxic i stay in my room and i don’t want to be here, being with my dad is a breath of fresh air. she’s so negative and starts a fight over everything. i’m a very good kid, i’ve never snuck out i don’t do drugs or drink, i get good grades, i do my stuff.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, while a child's preference is taken into consideration in custody decisions, it is not the sole determining factor. At 16, your opinion is given significant weight by the court, especially if you can articulate mature and reasonable reasons for wanting to live with your father. However, the final decision rests on what the court determines to be in your best interest.

To initiate this change, your father would need to file a motion to modify the custody arrangement in family court. This process involves demonstrating a significant change in circumstances since the last custody order was made – in this case, your preference and age could be relevant factors.

It's important for your father to explain to the court why living with him would be in your best interest. Factors such as a stable home environment, emotional well-being, and your academic success will be considered.

If you're experiencing a difficult home environment, it's also advisable to talk to a trusted adult, like a school counselor or family relative, who can provide support during this process. Remember, the court's primary concern is your well-being and ensuring that the custody arrangement serves your best interests.

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