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  1. #1
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    Default 11 Year Old Child Wants to Switch Primary Homes

    My question involves a child custody case from the State of: California

    I am posting this because I just found out from my husband that my step son wants to move to his moms. Currently, he visits his mom the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend along with half of holidays and half of summer.

    The reason he gave to my husband is so he can see his brother more.

    His mom isn't the best, but could be worse. She manipulates him constantly and makes him feel guilty if he wants to do things besides go to her house, or activities that would interrupt her time. She doesn't involved herself in anything step son does: baseball, school awards and concerts, etc.... I don't know if it matters but her other son who she has had primary for his entire life (9 years) isn't the best of kids. He gets bad grades, is out of control. Step son tells us that he and his brother constnatly fight, play fight up there. But his "play fight" is kicking each other in the balls, body slamming, punching, kicking, etc. To me, this isn't really what brothers do.. it seems extreme.

    He is 11 years old right now, 12 in August... and the mom is convinced that he can choose where he wants to live when he is 12. Nothing is wrong at our house (he isn't being neglected or abused).

    What are the chances? My husband has had primary custody of him for almost 8 years.... His mother first got visitation 4 years ago and joint custody 3 years ago....

  2. #2

    Default Re: 11 Year Old Wants to Switch Primary Homes

    Mom has wishful thinking. Minors don't get to choose where they live. Period.

    If dad has had custody for 8 years, mom would have to prove to the court that either dad is unfit (an incredibly high burden) or that there has been some SUBSTANTIAL and negative change in the child's life that could foreseeably be helped by switching custody to mom (for example, dad is now paraplegic or in a coma and can't care for the child, or dad is out of work and the child is living under a bridge).

    The sky on mom's world is a different color than the sky in the family court's world.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: 11 Year Old Wants to Switch Primary Homes

    Quote Quoting aardvarc
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    Mom has wishful thinking. Minors don't get to choose where they live. Period.

    If dad has had custody for 8 years, mom would have to prove to the court that either dad is unfit (an incredibly high burden) or that there has been some SUBSTANTIAL and negative change in the child's life that could foreseeably be helped by switching custody to mom (for example, dad is now paraplegic or in a coma and can't care for the child, or dad is out of work and the child is living under a bridge).

    The sky on mom's world is a different color than the sky in the family court's world.
    Agreed. Except I'd say that there has to be a change of circumstance (it doesn't necessarily have to be negative) AND that switching custody would also be in the child's best interest.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: 11 Year Old Wants to Switch Primary Homes

    Quote Quoting aardvarc
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    Mom has wishful thinking. Minors don't get to choose where they live. Period.

    If dad has had custody for 8 years, mom would have to prove to the court that either dad is unfit (an incredibly high burden) or that there has been some SUBSTANTIAL and negative change in the child's life that could foreseeably be helped by switching custody to mom (for example, dad is now paraplegic or in a coma and can't care for the child, or dad is out of work and the child is living under a bridge).

    The sky on mom's world is a different color than the sky in the family court's world.
    What are unfit reasons? Step son feels that dad doesn't spend enough time with him... but everytime my husband says "hey, what do you want to do?" "let's go do this and that"... step son always wants to stay home and play with friends. I feel that my step son is depressed and after the holiday my husand is going to make an appointment with a therapist.
    The mediator already doesn't like my husband, so it worries me that once again things are going to be twisted and manipulated to make husband look like an ass.
    How much does a childs opinion weigh in courts at this age?

    Quote Quoting Dogmatique
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    Agreed. Except I'd say that there has to be a change of circumstance (it doesn't necessarily have to be negative) AND that switching custody would also be in the child's best interest.
    What types of things are "best interest"?

  5. #5

    Default Re: 11 Year Old Wants to Switch Primary Homes

    Quote Quoting mrshiggins
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    What are unfit reasons?
    Unfit meaning posing a danger to the child or a history of documented incidents of violence, neglect, etc. Unfit generally means that there is some intense circumstances or long term problems that make the court fear to leave the child alone with the parent, for any number of reasons. The most common finding of "unfit" centers on parents who'd rather be out drinking or drugging than making sure their kids have something to eat or proper supervision. "Failure to protect" is another form of "unfit", specific to parents who keep exposing their children to domestic violence after the court has given them an ultimatum or order to keep potentially dangerous partners away from the children. Those are two biggies that'll destroy custody quick.

    How much does a childs opinion weigh in courts at this age?
    Not nearly as much as mom might want it to. Courts understand that children want to be with the parent that they are either most comfortable with , or, with the parent who is less strict/more lenient. Children under 13 or so focus the whole world on themselves and it's often a situation where the grass is greener on the other side - and courts are smart enough to know that it's all too common for the NCP to "dangle" things and promises to make it even MORE green-seeming to a child (at 13 or so the focus starts to shift to friends, which is why almost 100% of problems over visitation regarding older teens is that the teen would rather be with friends than with their parent who has a court order for visitation). Because they lack the capacity to understand things like manipulation and consequences of actions, the courts make the decisions based on "best interest" of the child (within the framework of still honoring the rights of parents to BE parents, unless found unfit).


    What types of things are "best interest"?
    Big picture, basically. It's not a laundry list of specific things per se. It would have to be an overall set of circumstances that could include anything from school issues, supervision issues, discipline issues, parenting issues, socialization issues, and just about any other aspect of life - AND - most importantly - that conglomeration would have to be SO heavily weighted as to make the court do the LAST thing it wants to do - which is to totally uproot the child's life by switching custody to the other parent. It doesn't happen as often as people think, and generally happens when there are substantial issues going on that are having a direct impact on the child (the child being exposed to abuse or criminal activity in the home, for example). In other words, it isn't going to happen just because mom wants it to, nor because the child has been manipulated into agreeing to go along with mom's request.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: 11 Year Old Child Wants to Switch Primary Homes

    Quote Quoting mrshiggins
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    Step son tells us that he and his brother constnatly fight, play fight up there. But his "play fight" is kicking each other in the balls, body slamming, punching, kicking, etc. To me, this isn't really what brothers do.
    This is what my brother and I did growing up, as did all of my friends who had brothers of similar age, none of us went on to become criminals or habitually violent (outside of contact sports). If one of them is being seriously hurt or the aggression leads to more serious actions (i.e. knives being used, bones being broken, serious cuts and bruises) then it would be something to be really concerned about. If one is much bigger than the other and the playfighting turns into chronic bullying, I would also worry, otherwise being able to defend oneself is valuable life experience.

    To expect two boys of 9 and 11 to play like girls is frankly unreasonable, no matter how much you dislike his half-brother.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: 11 Year Old Child Wants to Switch Primary Homes

    At this juncture, the therapist concept is playing into moms hands and premature IMO.

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