You and your spouse have a child together, so you know that divorce is going to focus on custody issues. You’re always going to have to balance raising this child, and you’ll always be connected by the child, even when your marriage ends. As far as housing the child goes, you need to make a decision that works for both of you, and that puts your child first.
You believe that you and your spouse should work together to make this decision, but your spouse notes that your child may have to pick. He or she just wants to ask the child where they want to live and let them make the decision all on their own. Can you do this? Should you do it?
Don’t make children pick sides
One of the fundamental rules for parents as they go through divorce is that it is better not to make their children pick sides. You don’t want the child to feel like he or she has to pick Mom or Dad. You don’t want to alienate one parent or make things more complicated than they need to be. Most of all, you don’t want to put that type of stress on your child. For all of these reasons, it is generally considered a bad idea to ask your child where they would like to live or to give them the option to make that decision for you.
Children may have an opinion
That said, it is not unheard of for the court to ask what the child’s opinion is. This is generally done with children who are older, when the court deems that they can understand what they’re choosing and make an honest decision without coaching from either parent. However, even if the court asks your child what he or she would prefer, there is no guarantee that the judge will go along with that. They’re going to look at a lot of other factors, such as who has been the primary caregiver or what the living situations are like for both of you, and they’re going to weigh all these together to decide what is best for the child. The child’s opinion may be part of this, but that still doesn’t mean that they can just make the choice.
Divorce with a child can be taxing, and it has a big impact on the future for all of you. Make sure you are well aware of your legal rights at this time.