Co-parenting brings many challenges, and you may think things will get easier as your children get older, but that does not always happen. As children age, they naturally begin to develop preferences about which parent they want to live with.
A common misconception is that a child can choose which parent to live with when they reach a certain age, but this is not necessarily true. Georgia courts make custody decisions based on their determination of what is in the best interest of the children.
Do I have to send my child to the other parent?
The wishes of the child are one of these factors. However, they are only one factor considered along with all the others. Additionally, a court considers a child’s maturity level and judgment ability when evaluating their preference about which parent they want to live with.
This means your child might not want to live with, or even see, your co-parent, but you can still end up with a custody order giving your co-parent some custody time. You must follow the court order or you could face penalties from the court.
Although it is difficult to send your child to your co-parent, you should support the visitation and encourage your child to develop and maintain a relationship with your co-parent.
Do not dismiss your child’s reasons
Talk with your child and learn the reasons they do not want to go. Listen to their answers and take them seriously.
Sometimes there are legitimate reasons that a child does not want to see a parent and a court should intervene. If your child tells you that the rules at your co-parents house are too strict or that your co-parent makes them go to bed earlier, these are not likely to be seen as legitimate reasons by a court.
If your child tells you they are experiencing neglect or abuse at your co-parents home, this is something that should be brought to a court through a motion to modify custody. However, you must prove abuse or neglect so you need to have evidence to back up your claim.