Q. We are getting divorced and have a 12 year old daughter. Is she old enough to decide for herself where she wants to live?
That is a decision for and your spouse as parents. At the end of the day your daughter is still a minor and you both, as her parents, must make the final decision. How much you are influenced by your daughter’s preference will likely depend on (among other things);
i) how mature your daughter is and how well you believe she knows her own mind. It will not be good for any of you if one day she wants to live with mum, the next with dad depending on which way the wind is blowing or which one of you is telling, or giving her what she wants. There will be difficult teenage years to come where you will all need to work together irrespective of which home is your daughter’s main residence;
ii) which parent is able to be flexible with their working hours and be home for your daughter during the working week before and after school;
iii) where each parent is going to reside after your separation, and the proximity to your daughter’s school and friends. Her social life will become more important as she grows up which is something else you will both need to juggle;
iv) what arrangements are going to work for your family for your daughter to see the other parent.
There are many other factors that may or may not be relevant to your situation. It may also depend on each of your relationships with your daughter but, usually, it is a decision for the family to make together. If you find the conversations difficult to have, you could consider family therapy or mediation that your daughter is also involved in to help you discuss the options and any issues openly. Together you need to agree an arrangement for your daughter’s main residence that also enables her to see the other parent regularly and consistently that works for the whole family.
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