A Preference Is Not a Decision or a Determination
Video Transcribed: Can a child choose which parent to live with in Oklahoma? My name is James Wirth, and I am a child custody attorney in Tulsa; that is our question. The child’s preference and how that relates to a determination of custody and visitation.
And there is a statute regarding this in Oklahoma. I can give you that citation. It’s title 43, section 113. And what that provides is that when a child is age 12 or older, there is a presumption that the child is intelligent enough to make a preference decision. So if the child is 12 or older, there’s that preference.
However, for some younger children, the court may determine that they’re intelligent enough. For some older children, the court may determine that they’re not intelligent enough to make that preference.
It depends on that child’s intellectual development, where they are in their life, and their specific circumstances on whether they can make an intelligent preference.
However, a preference is not a decision or a determination. The determination of who gets custody and visitation and how much is up to the court and the judge, based on the best interest standard.
So if the court… If the child is old enough to make an intelligent preference, which, as I said, is presumed at 12 and older, that means that the child gets to express that to the judge.
And the judge should hear that and consider that, and likely, give a lot of weight to it, to be honest. But it is not the determining factor. The judge must still weigh all the other factors in determining the best interest.
So to answer the question, can a child choose which parent they want to live with? The answer is generally no. But they can give an intelligent preference if they are developmentally old enough. And the court may go along with that unless there are good reasons not to go along.
But if you’re dealing with specific circumstances, you will want to talk to an attorney privately and, confidentially, get legal advice relevant to you. To get that scheduled with an Oklahoma child custody lawyer in my office, you can go to makelaweasy.com.