Can a 13-year-old child defy a custody order and move in with the other parent?

From a legal perspective, where a 13-year-old lives can depend on whether there is a court order that sets that out. From a practical perspective, if a 13-year-old is making a voluntary and safe choice, not much will happen if he moves back with you.

There are a number of factors that judges consider when making a decision about where a child should live. One of those factors is the views and preferences of the child. When a child is young, judges give a child’s views and preferences very little weight. They also give very little weight if the child’s views have been manipulated by an adult. However, as children get older, judges give children’s views much more weight.

Judges are often very reluctant to make an order forcing a teenager to live with one parent instead of another where that order is against the teenager’s wishes. The reality is that teenagers often do not listen and go to the home where they want to stay. Where one parent wants to force a child home, the court’s only real option is to order the police to intervene. However, judges are very reluctant to do that unless the child is choosing to live with a parent who poses some threat to the child’s safety, either by way of abuse (which can include emotional pressure by one parent to encourage the child to reject the other parent) or neglect. If that is the case, then a children’s aid society usually becomes involved as well. However, absent these types of concerns, where a child makes the decision freely to change homes, judges are reluctant to interfere.

John Schuman Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law book cover

You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a comprehensive explanation of parenting cases (parenting time and decision making), child support, spousal support, property division, and most other common family law issues by downloading this $9.99 Kindle eBook, Kobo eBook, or iBook for your iPad or iPhone or ordering it from Amazon as a paperback. But to understand how the law works precisely in your situation, it is always best to speak to a good Family Law Lawyer.

To comment on this article, or to contact John Schuman, please use the form below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *