Any parent can tell you that the only constant about their children is that they are always changing. When a child is born, he or she will have very different needs and preferences than even two years later. During a divorce or separation, you and the other parent will work together to create a custody and visitation plan that best fits your child’s needs. Even with the most diligent of efforts, it is unlikely that you will be able to craft a plan that will stretch from a child’s infancy all the way until the child is no longer a child. It is not uncommon for a child to start requesting that he or she change primary residence. If your child now wants to live with you, there are specific steps to make that happen.
In order to change an existing custody or visitation order, you will need to return to court. You will need to file a petition seeking to modify the current order based on a substantial change in circumstances. These changes are commonly such things as moving residences, changing academic needs, or, in some circumstances, the child’s changing preferences. Under Minnesota law, there is no exact age at which a judge will take a child’s preference into account. Instead, there are a list of factors a court will take into account when making a visitation or custody order. One of those factors is “the reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient ability, age, and maturity to express an independent, reliable preference.” This means that the younger and more immature the child, the less likely a court is to give substantial weight to that child’s preference.
It is also important to keep in mind that a court will be giving weight to a child’s reasonable preferences. Even older children will sometimes have preferences that are impractical or even against their best interest. For example, if a child wants to go to live with a parent who travels extensively for work, this would not be a reasonable preference, as that parent would not be able to provide supervision and care for the child during work travel.
If you have questions about modifying your current custody or visitation order, call us today at (320) 299-4249. Our family law attorneys in Minnesota can talk with you about your plans for your children.