- Family Law Overview
- Division of Assets
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Divorce Modifications
When it comes to creating a custody and parenting plan for younger children it can be quite a bit simpler than when you’re dealing with a preteen or a teen. With a toddler or an elementary school-aged child, the primary custody decisions are either going to be up to the parents or the Rhode Island court system, if an agreement can’t be reached.
When older children or teenagers are involved, it can be a more complicated because they often want to have a say in the situation.
Here’s what to know about child custody and the child’s preferences in Rhode Island:
Is There an Age When Kids Can Make Their Own Custody Decision?
Many parents have the misconception that there’s a certain age, for example 13, when teenagers are allowed to determine with which parent they’ll live.
In Rhode Island this isn’t the case—there’s no magic age where teenagers are completely responsible for deciding with whom they’ll live, but with that being said, many Rhode Island family court judges do heavily take into consideration the preferences of the child, particularly older children, when making a decision.
The older the child, the more heavily their opinion tends to weigh in the judge’s decision-making process.
As well as playing a role in overall custody decisions, older kids can also have an impact on visitation. For example, a teenager may prefer overnight visits with the parent who doesn’t have primary custody, or on the other hand may request not to go overnight and these are issues that are going to be part of the judge’s decision in most cases.
Despite the willingness of judges to look to older children and teenagers when determining custody, there are some instances where this may not be the case, particularly if it’s not in the best interest of the child.
Ultimately, the number one consideration looked to in determining custody in Rhode Island is the child’s best interest, and if preferences contradict this, the judge is going to follow criteria related to best interest.
Another situation where children aren’t a primary part of the decision is with regard to legal custody.
If you have older children and you’re facing a custody issue, there are some important things to remember:
If you’re in the midst of handling a custody issue with your child or teen, or are even contemplating a divorce, the best thing to do is contact an experienced divorce lawyer who can guide you through the process and help you find a solution that’s going to be in the best interest of your entire family.
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