Disputes regarding the custody of minor children often add months to a contentious divorce. No parent wants to sacrifice the ability to spend time with his or her child, but unless shared parenting is an option both parties are interested in, eventually one will be granted primary custody. While the court ultimately makes its decision based on what is in the best interest of the child, an older child may have his or her own idea about who he or she would rather live with. Understanding why your child might not want to live with you may make a painful situation easier to manage.
Sense of Control
Older children who see their parents going through a drawn-out divorce often feel as though their lives are spiraling out of control. The ability to vocalize a custody preference is one of the few ways they can establish some form of control over something that seriously affects them directly. Even though an older child loves both parents equally, the ability to express an opinion that requires choosing only one parent is ultimately one of the only ways a child can become actively involved in his or her own custody matters.
After a child has grown used to living in a certain area and is comfortable with a specific routine, he or she might feel less than enthusiastic about any custody changes that may lead to a move. If your child believes that one parent will remain in the family home while the other moves out, he or she might want to stay with the parent who is not moving. Even if the family home is going to be sold during the divorce process, or the other parent is moving to a property nearby, a child may still be unwilling to live with a parent whose actions may threaten his or her stability.
In many households one parent takes on the role of the “bad guy” while the other parent is perceived as the easy-going parent. A child may believe that living with the parent who rarely enforces rules will lead to a more relaxed life with little discipline. Depending on the age of a child, he or she may not understand that parents sometimes work together consciously, deciding who will act as the “good parent” or “bad parent” based on the situation. It is natural for a child to gravitate towards the idea of living with the parent whom he or she believes will establish or enforce fewer rules.
Working together to determine how to handle custody is the best way to protect your child’s best interests. Unfortunately, it is not easy for parents to hear that a child does not want to live with them. If you feel that your child does not want to live with you, it is important that you do not take that choice personally and that you contact a child custody attorney immediately. The team at Vayman & Teitelbaum realize how sensitive custody issues are and we are prepared to offer you the assistance you need. Contact us today and schedule a consultation so that we can begin giving you the legal advice you need.