My Child Says They Want to Live With My Ex. What Should I Do?

A Difficult Request

Whether you’ve anticipated this type of request or if it comes out of nowhere, it can be incredibly difficult to hear your child say that they want to live with their other parent. Both you and your child may feel a mix of emotions that can feel overwhelming, leaving you confused as to how to answer their request. Here are some things to keep in mind if your child asks to move to the other parent’s residence.

Engage in the Conversation

While hearing those words come out of your child’s mouth may be difficult, it’s important to allow this moment to foster meaningful conversation between you and your child. Encourage your child to explain why they feel this way while reminding them that they should speak kindly. Force yourself to listen to their feelings as calmly as possible.

Along those lines, it’s important to try and put yourself in your child’s shoes. They, perhaps like you, have never been through a divorce before, and displaying a willingness to empathize with how they feel can go a long way in maintaining your relationship with your child. Remember that their request does not necessarily reflect on your ability to be a parent nor does it mean that your child does not love you.

This emphasis on listening and empathy does not mean that you have to stay silent on your feelings, however. It is all right for you to express your fears about this possible change, though you should consider sharing those feelings with a trusted friend, family member, or in a personal journal.

Consider the Current Custody Arrangement

Your next step is to look back at your custody arrangement and consider consulting your ex while you make your decision. If you have sole custody of your child, what happens is completely up to you. If you and your ex share custody, however, it’s important to keep them involved in the conversation to avoid embarrassment to your child.

If for some reason this goes to court, then the judge may want to listen to your child’s wishes depending on their age. If your child is at an age where they are capable of making rational decisions (typically during teenage years), then a judge may listen to your child’s wishes (although they are not required to). Otherwise, the judge may hear the issue at hand and make a final determination based on if the switch in residence would serve the child’s best interests.

Consult a California Custody Attorney

It’s important to note that your custody attorney can guide you on how you should proceed should your child raise this issue. At Schweitzer Law Partners, we know hearing your child wants to move to the other parent’s home can feel devastating and leave you feeling confused and alone; know that you aren’t alone. We’re here to help you navigate this difficult situation, protect your rights, and ultimately seek what is best for your child.


To schedule a consultation with our Pasadena custody attorneys, call us at (626) 788-5225 or visit us online.

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