At what age can a child decide custody/parenting time?

This is a trick question.  There is no age at which a child can make these decisions, until he/she turns 18 and the court no longer has jurisdiction over them.

There are, however, a few methods by which a child can have input in the process. 1. An attorney can be appointed for the child. If the child is old enough, the attorney can advocate for the child’s wishes; 2. If there is a custody evaluation, the child will be interviewed and the evaluator may take the child’s views into account; 3. The child can testify in court. I never have children testify and am opposed to it. Judges do not want children to be involved in the process and it is generally thought that the less a child can be involved in the process, the better. That being said, an attorney can help a parent to advocate for their child’s wishes.

About Daniel Margolin

Daniel Margolin is a founding partner of Stephens & Margolin LLP and a Portland, Oregon native. His practice focuses on all aspects of family law litigation. Dan applies his litigation expertise to provide additional expertise when assisting clients with Family Law Appeals and Collaborative Divorce matters. To find out more or contact Daniel Margolin, visit Stephens & Margolin LLP
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65 Responses to At what age can a child decide custody/parenting time?

  1. Mary Beth says:

    I am a mother that lost custody because I moved to Texas. I was the phycological parent from the day he was born to he was 10. I was never married to his father and because I bought and sold houses I was considered unstable. My son’s attorney clearly knew that he wanted to be with me but ruled that he stay with the father rather than me because they felt he would be the better parent to continue a relationship with me etc. None the less I don’t speak to my son very often because they dont let him talk to me, they dictate my flight schedules causing me financial hardship, my son calls me crying saying that they talk bad about me, not covering my son on health insurance causing me to pay huge amounts in cash payments, and childsupport, not paying for his portion of flights, all on a $12hr salary. My question is since they didn’t listen to his wishes at 11 when will they consider his wishes? Can I file contempt because he is not living up to the court order making it easy for me to have a relationship with my son?

    • admin says:


      Children are allowed to make decisions for themselves when they are no longer minors. However, as children approach 18, their preference has more weight. A key consideration is the ability to get the preference in front of a Judge. Judge’s almost unilformly dislike parents that ask children to testify in custody and parenting time proceedings. Talk to an attorney about getting a children’s attorney re-involved, or about doing a parenting time or custody study. In order for contempt to work as a remedy, there has to be a willful resistance to or obstruction of the court’s authority, process, order, or judgmetn. We previously blogged about contempt as a remedy for parenting time violations here. Contempt can also be used for some financial obligations. You should go over your judgment with an experienced family law attorney to see what can be done.

  2. Jen Ramsey says:

    Hi me and my soon to be husband have been trying to get custody of his daughter my soon to be step daughter for two years now, court hearing after court hearing we finaly had the last court hearing and because the dad was not very stable the first two months of her life, the mother got full legal custody with 50/50 parenting time, so altgough we have week on week off, it is very painful to see our now three in a half year old daughter kick and scream when she has to go back to her mothers house, she douse have a step sister that is only 6 weeks yonger than her who has been in her life since they were both 7 and 8 months old, plus she has a baby sister who is 9 months old. We are very stable with a beautiful home and always taking the girls out and spending time with them 24/7 we don’t belive in daycare or babysitters, wile the mother is always dropping off my step daughter to any one that will take her and has moved over six times in two years, it breaks our heart to see our little girl scream don’t leave me daddy and jenny please she says every time we have to take her to her moms house. And now the mother is demanding half of her co pay that she pays for medical insurance, when she makes more money than us and we have three kids to suport she only has one. What should we do? Can she demand money from us even after the court said no child suport it demanded sence we have 50/50 paranting time?

  3. Mimi says:

    Hello, I just want to know weather it’s illegal or not if a parent has no rights or what so ever to see their children. My brother’s ex ran away from the family, leaving him with 2 kids for 3 years. She came back and fought for the children physically and although they were not married legally, she won the case and have custody over the children. She claims that he had beat her causing her to have bruises all over her body. The child testify, and all they asked the child in court is weather or not the child was “hurt” in the process. When the child said “yes”, they gave custody over to the mother. Now he has no rights to see his kids because she has a restraining order on him. What advice can you give about this case?

  4. Mimi says:

    oh yes and i forgot to add that the mother lives in California while the two children are living in Kansas with her family. Is that legal for her to do that? she claims that their babysitter is in Kansas.

  5. kia says:

    Hello : I have a 13 year old girl that wants to live with her grandmother . However i said no . She says that she read that she take me to court and testify against me . I just wanted to know is this possible ?

  6. NotAgain says:

    I am in a state of shock! After a custody battle a few years ago, my ex and my 13yr old are in cahoots AGAIN to take custody away from me. How a father willing convince a child to turn against their own mother? I’m sick to my stomach with all of this.

  7. I have loss custody to the abuser. What I have gone through is unreal to be with my children. Since, July 1st, 2010, his girlfriend has kept me from my children and told me they are hers now. They have filed bogus protective orders on me to make excuses for me not to see me children. The girlfriend has taken over our lifes and traumatized my children. It is horrible! I am only guilty of being a very good mother. I have cried so many tears. How could evil prevail? Please contact me. I feel so alone. I just read from one writer that she is sick to her stomach. I know exactly how you feel. Also, I have no money and the father makes a six-figure salary. Is there ever justice? Judges do not care about the best interest of children! It is about who has money and who lies the best!!!!!!!! I still hope for a change in custody, but it takes money. I miss my children every moment of the day. They are my life. So, to be alone most days without your children to take care of is not normal. God wants me to be their mother, not a stranger who appears from off the internet that the father met. We need to band together to fight this cruelty to mothers and children.

    • admin says:


      There are resources available in our community when one has a lower income than their spouse. St. Andrews legal clinic is a fantastic resource and has many talented lawyers. Legal Aid can help in some cases where there is domestic violence. A link to county by county legal aid resources is here.

  8. Rachel says:


    I live in Montana and two of my nephews live in Oregon with their mother. The oldest boy (10 years) is constantly sending text messages to his father (my brother) and talking of wanting to not feel pain anymore, wanting to just die so he can go away. He wants to live with his father but custody was given to the mother. At what age and how would we go about getting the courts to allow him to live with his father if that was what he wanted? We do not want him to be put through testifying against his mother as that emotional pain would stick with him. Please advise. Thank you!

    • admin says:


      Generally speaking, the age when a child gets to decide where they live is the age of majority. Any change of custody or parenting time before the age of majority needs to be in the child’s best interests, and not just what a child wants. There are many things that can be done to have the child’s voice heard, such as having an attorney appointed for the child, or doing a custody or parenting time study.

      You should call our office or consult with another attorney about the specifics of your situation.

  9. Amy says:

    Hoping you can help. My husband and I are trying to figure out if it’s worht the time and money to go to court for custody of my 10 year old daughter. Her father and I both live in Oregon, but about an hour away. The custody arrangement (done through mediation) is she lives with him, I see her every other weekend. During the summer it’s two weeks on, two weeks off. Major holidays are switched except every year I get her Christmas Eve until noon on Christmas Day.

    For about three years, she has wanted to live with my husband and I and her father keeps saying no. But, I have had enough of his childness when it comes to how he fathers her. The final straw: Two years ago we had her for both Christmas Eve and Day so this year he was going to have her both days. He and I agreed that I would pick her up the day after. About a week before, he tells me he wants to keep her longer. I had already made the plans, based on his agreement, so I refused to change. He said let our daughter decide. She did, she wanted it to stay the same. He said “Then you call Grandma (his mom) and see what she says. See what happens.” My daughter hung up with him and was crying. How could he play head games with her??

    Sorry for the long story, my point is he’s not a “bad” father, just doesn’t do what’s best for our daughter a lot. She wants to live with me, I want her to live with me, circumstances have changed in my life DRAMATICALLY since the mediation. The question is, do I have a case? Is it worth the time, money and effort?

    • admin says:

      Dear Amy:

      To answer your question, i would have to know more about your particular situation. A 10 year old doesn’t get to vote where she wants to live, however, her preference has some weight in the context of a custody evaluation. And, the court does require a change of circumstances before modifying custody, which it sounds like you may be able to establish. I strongly encourage you to call our office or consult with another experienced family law firm regarding the case.

  10. penny says:

    My sons father who has never been in my sons life. Wants visitation with my son who is 14 has never meet his father has no interest in meeting his father at this time. I have put my son in counseling to help him cope with this situation. He feels that he has no rights in this matter. What should i do?

  11. Doris Yager says:

    My son and his x never married. He died two years ago, leaving three daughters, They had no formal agreement but the girls usually spent their time 50/50, With the exception of the oldest girl who only went to visit her mother one day every 4-7 weeks. The oldest girl stayed with her father or at my home. Since she was born she has been in my home more the 50% of her life. After her father died she stayed full time with me. Her grades and attendance was excellent. One year ago she admitted she needed to be with her sisters and moved in with her mother and two sisters. She still stayed with me on all school vacations and plans to continue this. Trouble is her attendance and grades have been horrid, she fears failing 6th grade now. She has asked her mother multi times to let her move back with her grandmother. Her mother has said she will send her to juvenal hall and her grandmother to jail first. I am saddened and concerned about her life. What are the rights of a 12 year old girl in Oregon who is in the situation? I want her to be able to move back in to my home and need to know how I can assist her

    • admin says:


      Oregon gives grandparents and other third parties who have a strong relationship with a child the right to ask the court for visitation or even custody. It’s in ORS 109.119. In your type of situation, it is better to act quickly after a relationship has been disrupted by a legal parent. You should call us to further discuss your rights.

  12. brian says:

    hummm my ex took my daughter who is 13 out of oregon and moved her to L.A i have got a lawyer now i hope i can get her back after she took her out of state on me and her step brother put his fingers in her when she was 8 and they dropped the charges down to sex harrament and he has touched her 3 more times sence then do u have any advice do i have a chance at getting her back to me and a judge here in oregon told her she was unfit thanx for reading

  13. Kristi J. says:

    I have a parenting plan in Oregon for my two girls, ages 4 and 5. We live North of Seattle and my ex lives in Portland. He tells me that when the girls are old enough they’re going to live with him because I’ve gotten them for so long and he deserves to spend more time with them. He was unemployed for over a year and just got a job. He doesn’t exercise his full parenting time. We have a judge already and previously when I went in to modify his parenting time from two weekends a month having the girls in Portland to one weekend a month in Portland and one weekend a month up in Washington she agreed with me. He is also $5000 behind in child support. What are the chances of the girls living with him when they get older? He keeps saying the age of 12. My heart breaks thinking about this. He is a good father, but I have always been the primary caregiver and I am a great mother. What is most irritating is that he is planting ideas in the girls heads, my oldest will come back saying that I need to let the girls see their dad more, when I feel he could move up here if he wants to see them more, or at the very least exercise his full parenting time. Is he going to be able to take the girls away from me because he’s putting those ideas in their head?

    • admin says:


      The first two reasons given by your ex for changing custody are not reasons the court considers. Parents don’t take turns with kids, nor does what a parent deserves matter. These two reasons are all about him, and not about what’s good for the girls. The only inquiry the court is interested in if presented with a request for change of custody is (1) has there been a substantial change in circumstances in a parent’s capacity to parent, and (2) is a change of custody in a child’s best interests. Older children have some voice in where they live, but they cannot make the decision to move from one house to another. You may want to consider getting the girls into counseling to help them with the issue of your ex discussing custody changes with them.

      If you want to troubleshoot further, contact our office for a consultation.

  14. emma says:

    I am a fifteen year old girl and I want to move in with my real dad, who lives about 15 miles away from my mom, whom I now live with. I have been having a really youth time at school and home lately and I feel like it would be best to move in with my dad. I get a ton if pressure from my step dad to do everything right and he yells and gets angry a lot. I have been thinking this through for a long time now and I believe it’s what is the right choice t o do. my question is how to tell my mom without breaking her heart and without taking hr to court. are there any laws that are in my favor that I could use?

  15. Amanda says:

    I was unaware of my husbands drug problem for 2 years. He was able ti hide it through excuses to leave to work at 10pm or 9pm to stock his vending machines. I was always with the children made their meals. I was in a constant battle with his mother who would take her out of the school she owned with out permission. confrontation one after the other never stopped her from getting my liitle girl, who has been brainwashing her against me fro a long time. I only know this now because I left. My son 4yrs I kept close to me and picked up early in a 3 to 6 yr old schol, so she could not get him also. To top it off my husband had been leaving every night to party and do and sell any drug possible. In rehab he said he lost 150,000$ in gambling and drugs. He was abusive to me verbally and not a lot physical but his problem existed since the start of our marriage. I did not know the reality of an addict and then in his rehab for the family the councelor always asks have you had enough. The final group session I felt as though he was looking into me and sais those words, “have you had enough.” I then began to think of how to escape him and this long term disease that never dies no matter how hard they try it always comes back to drugs with him. To have it a secret for 2 yrs I can’t trust him and he will never really be able to.
    The day I took myself and two small children to my parents was a releif. Then turned into disaster. He filed claming I had a drug problem without any documentation. I had police records of domestic violence to the highest degree papers, pictures of him past out ontop if a pill box with scattered pills all around. I had his rehab documents from two months prior and the judge did not take any of it as a problem.
    The court order became week to week. Each week with their father and his family the children came back crying and my son was doped up on benedryl because he won’t or can be brainwashed because of close relationship. As weeks went on my duaghter and son were told to behave as bad as they could and the would get something in return like a toy or a trip to funparks. My daughter was trying to convince my son that dad and his mother will give them anything they want and he could have their hugs and kisses. I heard my son crying and telling her that he wanted mommy’s hugs and kisses. I went into the room after listening to enough of his sister’s addiment attempt to stay with daddy and lie about mommy. I was so sad and angry how my 6 yr old duaghter has sold me out for prizes. My daughter has been showing signs of sexual abuse for two years. her father told me it was normal for a little girl to masterbate constanly even to the point that they bleed. she masterbates openly with out even thinking infront of my son,me,her father and her dads family. The children try to fondle me my mother, each other. I mean I caught my son about to lick my daughters vagina trough her clothes. They laughed and thought it was funny. My son was told be his sister ti tickle her in her vagina. the list goes on. Onw week my son came home and his penis was bleeding and had puss on his penis. He awoke that first night screaming that he did not want to be around his gramdparents or go to their home with dad. what I saw and the damage to his penis, I called the Gaurdian ad-litem in distrest for help. the doctor did not run a full test and explained it to be a yeast infection the nurse said it looked like clamitia to her. Then the following week he came home with a staff infection on his penis. The courts think I am falsely acusing the father to get custody. I have had many doctors say that theirr behavior is not normal and is learned. CPS and th GAL know the Father and grandmother through her school and are connected to both of my childrens addvocates. Anything which is nothing twisted into damaging metally to the kids. The mother in-law wrote a lie, made up story that I got my child to ask their cousin if she had been touched in her privates by the grandparent and father and my daughter response as said by grandmother was “well my mom told me to ask. so I had to do it.” My daught is fueled by greed. My son and I are saddly missing eachother but my daughter is taking it away by lying with them. I worry of how they treat him since his love and loyalty remain to me. The court does not acknowledge and of his statements of the harm they are doing to me and that dad is still using drugs. But my daughters lies were enough to take temporary custody and I am trying to be forced to admit my transgressions or I don’t see my children. I miss them my heart is breaking as well as my soul, but I refuse to admit a fabricated lie. Now I have to be closely watched when I see the for a day visit. I was granted every other weekend but my daughter is to afraid to be with me at night. This gives them ample time to scrabble the kids heads up and deny me a relationship with them. How does an abusive father and drug abuser of which are all documented gain all the power and keep my children from me and damage their minds in the meantime? I am fighting a school of employees that have seen lee waisted during school hours infront of children who will lie in order to keep their jobs and family to lie as well for him. My daughter calls me miss i.. by accident instead of mommy because she is so indocturinated. I feel I have lost and my son will be tormented in the days they have him of which are all right now. This is injustice like I’ve never seen. They look away at every tactick he uses to keep her on their side. I have been positive about dad and that seems to have screwed me even more. What can I do?

  16. Michelle says:

    I live in OR, my son is going to be 16 years old in a month. My husband and I are divorcing so I will be forced to move out of the state as I don’t have the money to sustain a single life here and need to go get help from family. I currently make enough to pay a lot of child support but that will change when I move, will I still owe that? Also my son doesn’t want to move away with me as he has decided this is his home now. His father says he will keep him. At 16, if there is no abuse or other circumstances so that he can’t stay with his father, do I just have to say goodbye? I do want what my son to be happy, but this is killing me. I don’t have the money for an attorney, I have read up on the laws and it so far I don’t see anything in my favor. The support I owe in this state alone for summer visits is going to break me! If I am in a different state can I re-file support orders there or do I need to re-file for support where my son is? I feel so helpless right now.

  17. Katie says:

    My boyfriend’s daughter lives in California with her mother. She visits her father in Oregon all of Spring Break and the entire summer. She does not want to go back to California. She has been adamant the entire summer that she wants to stay in Oregon where she is from. She is 14 years old. Her father is thinking of just not sending her back and enrolling her in school in Oregon this Fall. Unmarried parents. Please advise your thoughts and thank you.

    • Katie:

      Your boyfriend should call our office or consult with another lawyer’s office immediately. There are many issues to consider, both jurisdictional and otherwise.

      Sean Stephens

  18. Jessica says:

    I have 13 and 16 year old daughters and my ex-husband and I have been divorced since 1998, with a very detailed custody plan in which I am the parent with primary physical residence, but we share joint custody. I allowed them to go live with their dad for one school year because they really wanted to find out what it was like to live with him (they only see him for a few weeks in the summer and every other spring break and every other Christmas). He lives in Iowa, and I in Oregon. Now they want to go live with their dad, even though the verbal agreement was that they come back here to live permanently after one year. They are back in my physical custody, but they are giving me a difficult time because I won’t let them go live with him now. People keep telling me that they are allowed to make a decision like this, but I keep telling them that the girls aren’t allowed to legally make that choice for themselves…that they would have to take me to court to get what they want. In case someone’s reading this who thinks I should let them make the choice….their reasons are materialistic…I am a lot more frugal with my money than he is, so we don’t go on the amount of vacations he does, and they also get to shop for clothing and shoes whenever they need them, and he is also less strict. We are both great parents, but financially different. Who is right? Me…or other people?

    • Jessica:

      The court is concerned about what is in the children’s best interests, and not just what they want. While the opinion of a 13 and 16 year old is information the court may consider, it doesn’t mean the court would order a move. You should call us or consult with a mother lawyer about your situation.

  19. Lynda Burgess says:

    At what age is a child not a minor anymore?

  20. Annie B. says:

    My daughter is almost 15. She told me that her father and her have seen an attorney and she is going to go live with him as soon as she turns 15. My problem with this is that her father allows her to do anything she wants. His home is dirty. She has either slept on the couch or on the floor for years even though there are spare bedrooms. The list goes on. More importantly, the parenting plan has not been followed by him. Is it possible that a judge will listen to a 15 year old who simply doesn’t want to be told, “no” concerning anything in her life?

    • Annie:

      Per our post, there is no magic age where a child gets a deciding vote, but older kids, through either a custody evaluator or a lawyer representing the child, can express a preference that has some weight with the court. A court may well listen to a 15 year old if the information is presented properly. You need to talk to a lawyer quickly. Call us, or set up an appointment with someone in your area immediately.

  21. les says:

    when do you give the children the rights to avoid the other parent. my kids are now 7 and 9. havnt seen them in 3 yrs. they say they dont want to visit. they have a dad where they are. they ask to change their last name. the mom tells me i am not thinking of their needs and wants. and she will not force them to do things they dont want to do. yet i ask, you force them to go to school, force them to eat what they dont like, etc. whats the difference. all a hear is excuses to keep the kids away from me. we had a very good relationship right up until the mom started yelling at me in front of the kids. calling me names, and even coming to get the kids when i had them, forcing them out of my home to go with her, while my wife was taking care of them, and i was at work for a few hours. what do i do in this situation. they wont even talk on the phone anymore. isnt this child abuse? i know they loved seeing me, and on many occasions didnt want to go back. i said they had to, because thats the way things work. so now? what is my course of action. please help

  22. Claudia says:

    My 11 year old son lives with his father full time now, and such has been the case for the last six years. I, the mother get to spend time with my son twice per week and for a total of four hrs each of those days. I attend his baseball practices and games and physically see him around four to five times per week. If my son decides that he doesn’t want to visit with me those two days of the weeks, would the court grant that…Would they listen to an 11 year old wanting to end the legal appointed time with the mother? This is not the case, but my ex-husband stated to me that the court would listen to what my son wants and support him in not spending time with mom if he chose to. Please let me know your thoughts.. Thank you!

  23. In Oklahoma Child Custody Court, the age is 12.

  24. Don says:

    I’m wondering if a time-parenting study is the best way to go for my 12-year old son. My ex is the custodial parent, but we share decision making on a 50/50 basis and live 7 miles apart in the same town. Our visitation agreement is set up so I have my son with me Fri/Sat/Sun/Mon on my 1st visitation weekend of the month and then Friday-Friday (a full week) on my last visitation weekend of the month.

    I am by far the more involved parent. I have volunteered in 3-4 youth organizations he’s been involved in, have attended every parent-teacher conference he’s ever had, stayed on top of his grades and in fairly regular contact with his teachers and have usually been the one who stayed home with him when he was sick or wound up being taken to the doctor/dentist. My ex is more concerned with finding her next hubby or with whom she’s currently dating and has a history of missing his games/concerts/etc… She rarely allows him to have friends over, has never allowed him to have a sleep-over and has never had a birthday party for him where he has been allowed to invite his friends. At age 12, my son has figured this out about his mother and even told me that she is using the child support payments to make her car and insurance payments and then tells him that she doesn’t have any money to spend on him. He still loves his mother and isn’t trying to change who is designated the custodial parent, but he wants to spend an equal amount of time with each of us — one week off and one week on year ’round. My ex is being very resistent to this change. At first she said, “it just wouldn’t work.” Then she told me that she, “just wasn’t ready for it.” Now she’s telling my youngest that he has no input into the visitation schedule until he’s at least 13-14 years old.

    This is not a situation where one parent has a lot more money than the other parent (less than $5K difference) or has offered some type of “bribe” to him to induce him to ask for this change. If anything, the rules at my house are more strict. It’s just that my son realizes he has a better home life, his grades are better and he gets more quality parenting time when he’s with me. Do we have any reasonable options available to us or are we just stuck with the present situation?

    • Don:

      A parenting time study may be a good way to address your concerns. The legal standard for modification is what is in the “best interests” of the children, and it sounds like you have been putting him first with your activities and involvement. I would encourage you to call us to discuss your situation further.

  25. maria says:

    My nephew’s father didn’t see him the first two years of his life, he just visit him once when he was 1 month old, after that he stop coming, never ask if the boy need anything, my sister had to ask for child support after 2 years, the father got extremely upset because of this, so a soon after this he whent to court to ask for some parenting time, they got and agreement he could see the kid Wednesday (2 hrs) & saturdays (8 hrs), for some time the parenting time was going well the kid has a ok relations with the father, we start notice that my nephew very agressive with my kids his cousins, hiding in the closet, going to any corner, tantrums, and when is was time to take him to see his father, my nephew say NO, as soon as the kid see his father come to pick him up, he cry with screaming, tantrums, kicks, pushing his father away, this events ocur every saturday that he have to take my nephew, my sister try that the kid go with his father but it was impossible, so father seen this behavior decide not to show anymore to the parenting time from Sept. 2011 until know, he say my sister is guilty, because she doesn’t force the kid to go with him, BUT HOW YOU GOING TO FORCE A KID OF 3 YEARS, when he is looking at you all scare, keep saying NOOOO please, my sister concern in my nephews behavior took him to see a therapyst, and after some visits the therapyst say that my nephew had ASPERGER SYNDROME, this kids need a lot of LOVE, this syndrome is relate to the AUTISM, the father to my sister back to court to chance his parenting time, my sister show to the Judge evidence of what could happen is my nephew is force to go with his father, and HE DIDN’T CARE, we understand that the father has rights but, we never denied the parenting time, the only thing that we want is that the father need to go to see a therapyst to learn how to undersant the behavior of his son and introduce the kid to his father againg slowly , but not the judge say that the father is allow to take the kid this saturday from 10am to 6pm, that the mother need to help the transition, and if she interfere with this she could go to JAIL.
    Where is here the judge considerer the child, NEVER, he is no a normal kid, he has special needs, WHERE IS JUSTICE, we are extremely dissapoint to the system how it works, father doesn’t show, doesn’t care about the kid, and he wins. NOT FAIR

  26. kerran says:

    I have a 12 going on 13 year old son who was in my custody until age of hes in the custody of his father..this change has been a struggle for our son and has learned to do his best in this situation as I have taught him to do so…he wanted to flunk out of school on purpose thinking that would get him back..he has prayed to god to send him back and wants to know why he cant..his dad accused me of alienation….his father..who was single at the time gave up his weekends alot due to wanting to go out of I..single also..put all my time and energy in him as well as my niece i have raised since 2years old…I was active in their schools, sports, volunteering, church, awanas, school trips, etc…i have always invited him (the father ) to come, and he had every excuse not to….now that hes finally married for some time, he came back to take him from me as he threatened this at his birth…and the courts believed him and his wife and now hes the one doing to me all that he accused me of…es[ecially his wife..since thats who my son is with all the time..since the father is working ……doesnt tell him i called..and if so..its the nect day..takes his phone away from him all the time so we cant talk..hangs up the phone on him as hes talking to me because the wife wouldnt let him go into another room to talk to me, she said she has to be right there or else..then grabbed the phone and hung it up….many of times at practices..didnt allow me to talk to my son because it wasnt my day…i can go on and on…He has been aproblem since he was born and has taken me to court since he was 1 month old…and never got anywhere until he was really married for awhile..he does make more than me..and Ive never taken him to child support court for more money as his business has grown substantially……I just dont want anymore problems..this is all my son has known..he deserves to have a happy life with no strife and lies and stress, he wants more time with us and misses us…we only see him couple days a week and his dad never lets him stay longer or work anything ourt for vacation with us or my parents who have been there wince he was born as his father chose to run around and play the field…..I am still a single mom who will always put my children first before any relationship…what should i do…he is a master of deception to the courts and almost anyone he encounters….. help

  27. Stephen Engan says:

    My daughter has lived with me since May 2010 a few months of that were with my sister but under my support. I found out her Mom was abusing drugs then selling. My daughter got caught with drugs we had a long talk she told me what was going on. I went to the police they couldnt really help me. I called CPS they called her Mom and gave her 3.5 days to get ready for an interview while my daughter was in front of her Mom she said nothing was wrong. She wanted out of the house to many drug abusers were there. I have a son 11 I took them both to Florida for 2 months while I went back and resigned from my job in MS they satyed with my sister in FL. after 2 months there Mom wanted them back my son wanted to go back my daughter didnt she was doing great in Florida. I let my son go back because his mom moved to her Dads in Georgia he is a minster there. My daughter stayed with me she didnt want to be with her Mom . I gave her Mom 2 k for support but didnt get an IOU she was giving it to me the next day that never happened.
    Bottom line I paid thru sept on support then stopped Child welfare garnished my check in August I pay 173 a week we struggle because of that My daughter made early college here she wroks out with me an has lost over 40 lbs her GPA is over 4.0 and she doesnt want anything to do with drugs. We need her support money for her school and to survive. i called and asked her Mom to adjust she laughed she is a sick person.
    I hired a lawyer in MS and paid 3700 an got nothing done I think the rumors are he went bankrupt. I dont have enough money for another lawyer. MS CPS doesnt want to listen to me Florida CPS did though when her Mom tried to have her removed from school here they stopped her. I want a fair support agreement I do want to pay for my son until he wants to live here…he does want to visit she wont let him its been over a year an a half.
    What can I do my funds are so limited because of support …I need help

  28. Mich says:

    My son who is now 16 has decided that he wants to live with his father. I have full legal custody of him and his 17 year old sister. His father was an emotionally abusive drug addict for most of the live of my children. I divorced him 3 years ago to get my children out of this situation. He would use drugs for a while and clean up, then use again and clean-up. After several years of this, I finally gave up hope that he would change and I got a divorce. He has a felony charges for meth about 6 years ago and a probation violation 5 years ago and various other charges such as a DUII and transporting Marijuana when he was 18. He has been in numerous bar fights since our divorce. He now has a medical marijuana card and grows it in his font yard. My son wants to live with him because his father will let him do things I will not. What are the chances that a judge would listen to my son’s wishes and grant him custody? His father told me he looked into it and because my son is 16 they will let him decide. is this true? I have a stable christian home and remarried a wonderful man who loves and cares for my children. My income way exceeds his fathers and I am able to provide for him financially. His father does not have a steady income. I’m so scared to have my son with his father when I’m not there to protect him, but everyone i talk to tells me I wont win in court because he gets to decide and his father has not used meth in over 3 years.

  29. Santina says:

    My daughter is 11 and she’s always lived with me. She has only seen her biological dad about 10-15 times. He went to prison and did alot of messed up stuff and he never had an interest to see my daughter. After he got his act together I left it up to her if she wanted to see him and she did a few times but the last time she visited with him she came home and said she didn’t want to see him ever again I found out it was because he had drank and drove with her in the car. I told him that she wasn’t comfortable visiting with him and this morning 6 months after the last time he seen her a sheriff shows up at my door with papers cause he wants visitation she doesn’t want to see him and I’m wondering if the courts are going to put her feelings into consideration?

    • Stephens Margolin says:


      While every case is fact dependent, if your daughter were given a voice in the process, either by having her own counsel, or by doing a parenting time study, the court would likely be interested in her input.

  30. Kendall Brooke Cooper says:

    Hello, I am a 16 almost 17 year old girl. I simply cannot stand living with my mom anymore because her and her “husband” are always verbally abusing me and ganging up on me. I’m in tears once a day over something they did to me. I’ve showed up to school with mascara down my face because they like to deal out ridiculous punishments first thing in the morning. All my friends, boyfriend, boyfriend’s mother, and my mother’s parents can all see I am miserable. But the only reason I haven’t moved in with my dad is because he lives in Austin and I would not want to switch schools. So to fix that problem, I’ve decided that I could state that I am living with my dad and then he gives consent for me to live with my mother’s parents so I can still attend the same school and graduate with my friends. I was just wondering if….
    This is possible without going to court? And if I do have to go to court, would my feelings and views be taken into consideration in the final ruling?
    Thanks. Any help is appreciated.

  31. sharon L. elkins says:

    I have a 16 year old son and his paternal grandmother got temp custody of him throughout the divorce due to his father being violent and agressive and we were both usiing drugs. That was for 4 years. at the time of the divorce his father got custody in oklahoma court, where we lived. By that time i had moved to arkansas to live near my mother. I fought addiction for several years and have many felony convictions for which i ended up going to RCF which is a correctional facility but their focus is rehabilitation from addiction. I was there for 11 months and got successful completion. Ive been out 8 months and have remained clean and sober for 18 months now. Im active in recovery and i volunteer at a womens recovery center, attend meetings a few times a week and am active in my church as is my husband of 5 years. he has no record of any kind. He is a retired marine. We have our own business and are financially capable of providing for my son. My son tells us that his dad threatens to kick him out and hit him often. He cries when forced to return to his dad after a visit. He wants to come live with us in ark. I was awarded standard visitation at time of divorce but his dad has never brought him to me or picked him up as the order stated. Will the judge consider my sons wishes, and the fact that ive been clean for a good amount of time?

  32. Mia says:

    My husband has a 10 yr old daughter from his previous marriage.
    It all started with a judge in hillsboro stating at the start of their divorce hearing that he had already decided but they had 30 mins to make statements. After a half hour of what felt like a waste of time, the judge ordered her full custody and him every other weekend and alternating holiday/summer scheds.

    Over the 8 years since their divorce she has violated their parenting agreement on numerous occasions even as far as to move from Portland to Texas for a year and a half with 2 days notice. Sadly my husband believed her when she said she would have opportunities down there that she didn’t here and that it was best for their daughter so he did not file contempt. Turns out she moved down their and lived off a boyfriend’s mother and the $900/mo his daughter gets from disability because her father was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2007. Now she lives in Hillsboro with no income besides her daughters survivor benefits and got CPS called by the school within a few months of being back in the state.

    We’re starting to worry about his daughter because the 2 times we’ve been allowed to see her(supposed to be every other weekend by parenting plan) since they’ve returned to the state(3+months), his daughter has been smelly and in dirty clothes and shorts and no coat(it was snowing 2 days before we picked her up). She also complains that eating 3 times a day is too much, that she is ok with a spoonful of peanut butter until dinner because that is what she does at mom’s house. All the clothes she brings over are dirty and most are 2-4 sizes too small. She claims she has never been to the dentist. Strange rashes for weeks. All these things caused my husband to contact her mother to meet and discuss ways he could help but his ex is very argumentative and abusive through text or email, since that is the only way she will communicate with him.

    In the end his daughter needs more care, we can give it to her but he lives on a fixed income and I am currently in school so an attorney is a big expenditure so I guess my question is:

    Based off my long winded description, do you think my husband has a good chance of getting full custody in Washington County?

    Thanks so much for your time,

  33. Mia says:

    …..and how much do you think we could do by ourselves in the court system?

  34. Roxanne says:

    I have a sixteen year old daughter that has been living with me for almost a year due to her mother and her always fighting. My daughter was taken from her mom a few years back by cps but then the mom got custody again. My daughter cant stand her mom. Her mom even physically attacked her then lied to the police about it. Her mom tries to control her but does nothing for her, no money, no food no roof over her head. But i still pay child support for my daughter. My ex wife still gets food stamps because she has custody of her and she still claimed her on her income tax. I want my daughter and she wants me to have custody. But i dont know where to take it from here. Any advice?

    • Stephens Margolin says:

      There is a lot you can do, and the court would give great weight to your daughter living with you successfully for a year in a modification. I recommend that you call to talk through he procedural aspects of the case.

  35. Caren says:

    My son’s father (whom I was never married to) moved to California from Oregon 3 and a half years ago. Since then, their regular visits went from every other weekend to twice a year with two extended visits. (one during a holiday and 35 days during the summer) My son doesn’t want to go for 5 weeks this year. He wants to get a job and only go for 3 weeks. His father is insisting that his rights say he gets the entire 35 days. Can his father force him to go? Does his father have the “right” to give up as many weekly visits as he wants and force his son to go for the full time just because it is more convenient?

  36. Becky says:

    My sons father and I broke up a few months ago. I have had full custody since then. not court ordered. I allow him to see him thursdays and every other saturday, durring the day. no nights. i do not feel that he has a stable home because he has no job and his only income is his vetrans disability check. he doesn’t have a valid drivers lisence or a car that runs. when we were together i took care of our son and his 2 daughters. he had a job for about 7 months while i dropped him off and picked him up. also taking his daughters to and from school and day care. while we were together he drank everyday, he is an alcholic his PTSD proves it. I had supporting him while he looked for a job and recently stopped because I need to save up money to move out of my parents place. i work 2 jobs and only make about 10.00/hr at both jobs. Is it worth trying to go to court? I would like to get full plasement while his father gets visitation. would i be able to prove any of this?

  37. renee says:

    I have temporary custody of my two nieces and nephew from CPS in Texas. my oldest niece will be 13 in January and wants to live with us. she is a good child, her parents have anger issues drug issues. they are beginning the counseling now after four months of living with me. my oldest niece has told te counselor case worker and her mom that she never wants to return home. do my husband and I have a good change of gaining custody through vetting a lawyer and going to court?

  38. Crystal says:

    My fiancé and I are in need of help! My fiancé has 3 wonderful little girls from a previous marriage. For the last 4 years we have been together, we have had split custody of the girls. Their mother lives in California, and has them partially during the school year. Meaning we bring them here to oregon every break they get. Christmas/New Years, Spring Break, Thanksgiving, Summer Vacation Etc.
    You get the idea. Recently their mother has taken a turn for the worst, and is on a downward spiral. She has gotten multiple DUI’s with the children in the car. The principal of one of the schools even called CPS because the girls’s mother was noticeably intoxicated. Her last incident involved her being intoxicated with the children in the car, and when she was pulled over, she threatened her own life screaming about how she was gonna blow her head off in front of the children.
    All in all we wish the best for her. As she is in rehab now. But now she has relinquished custody of the children to her parents. Unbenounced to us. Now we want to bring them back to oregon, with their father and the home they grew up in. But the state of California insists that we must jump through all these hoops to get our children back. I don’t understand why we are being punished when their mother is the one who obviously has the problems. We have no previous records or anything bad to do with the children. We love them and only want them to be in a stable home while their mother gets on the right track.
    Is their any info you can give me to help, as of now we feel our only option is to get a lawyer. I refuse to get UA’s weekly and be treated like a criminal to get custody of the children.
    Sincerely, Crustal

  39. Chris G says:

    Curently we have a parenting plan saying i have visitation of one day per week, every other weekend and splitting summers and holidays with my ex. Well my kids are fourteen and twelve. My eldest has had problems each time they are with my ex and expresses want to live with me each week and is showing signs of depression before returning to my exs house. I dont have any more money to go back to court what are my childrens rights? What do I do if theyone day just refuse to get in car to go back for the court ordered parenting time with my ex?

  40. lisa says:

    My 16 year old son wishes to live with me full time. His father and I have joint custody 50/50 since 2003. Our son has had difficulties with both his father and stepmom (since 2004) since he was 8 years old. When he turned 15 the problems and control issues have intensified. He has told his father he wants to live with my husband and me for the summer and come over to visit them and his half brother and sister often. He has been with us since the beginning of June. He attempted to visit his siblings and was told that it would be confusing for the kids and that he was the one who chose not to
    Live with them. We are not interested in a custody battle but would like his wishes to live with us honored.

    live with the

    • Stephens Margolin says:


      Consistency is usually good for kids, and the court offers two temporary remedies to protect against sudden changes in parenting plans. The first is the “Temporary PRotective Order of Restraint”, which freezes a child’s usual place of residence and routine prior to a final judgment being entered. The second is a post-judgment “status quo order”, which can be used to lock in a parenting schedule as practiced, even if the practice is different than the previous court order. I previously blogged in more detail about both in this post: Can I move out with the kids? The “Temporary Protective Order of Restraint” and “Status Quo Order”. Read the post, and talk to our firm or a local lawyer about what you can do to help your son.

      Sean Stephens

  41. sharon pineda says:

    my grandson is 10 and wants to live with me what age can he decide to do this and as a grandmother what rights do i have

  42. cassandra holmes says:

    My Fiance has a daughter that he has not been allowed to see almost her whole life she is now 13 years old and has contacted us and now wants her father to fight for custody she states she is not treated fairly in her home with her mother, step father and two half siblings. She is in California and we are in Oregon. How do we go about filing for custody when he hasnt really had much contact with her for most of her life and he has a few members of the daughter moms family on his side stating the girl is better off with her father. What steps should we take?

  43. Jassen says:

    You say the child must be 18yrs old to choose. But isnt it true you cant force a Teen to go as well? I have to Teens That want to do drivers training and only want to go to the custodial-parent for a month of summer so they can. What can I do about that ? Ive tried to talk to the other party but they dont what to take in count what are children want to do. Should I have the case moved to my State in ID?

    • Sean Stephens says:


      For parenting time purposes, the court has no jurisdiction over adults, but does over minors. Under 18, if the other parent disagrees with the child’s “choice” it can cause serious problems. Teens can be willful and challenging, but there’s a huge difference between an 18 year old’s decision that is NOT subject to review by the court, and the “choice” of a 16 year old that is subject to review by a judge.

      Sean Stephens, Google +,
      View all posts by author Sean Stephens

  44. James says:

    I have been divorced for almost 4 years. The judge awarded me custody of both my children (now ages 9 & 7). My ex and I share parenting time 50 – 50 (week on week off). We currently do not communicate well with each other. School conferences were last week (she did not show up) and the teachers told me they can tell the difference in the children every other week. I received an email yesterday and today from the youngest child’s teacher saying that he did not have a coat either day(high temp today 44). He was not fed this morning, the clothes he was wearing were dirty and he did not have his backpack and school supplies. The teacher gave him a coat from lost and found so he would have something. I have attendance records from the last two years as well showing both children were habitually late and assignments were not turned on the weeks with my ex. I have been reluctant to take her back to court fearing the unknown and not having the ability to pay another retainer. I can’t keep letting this go on but I don’t feel confident the court will rule any differently and I fear my ex may try to get custody changed to Joint. In your opinion, do I have enough to possibly reduce her amount of parenting time? At least through the school year on the days the children are in school?

    Thank you for your time and input!

  45. Pingback: Helping People During Divorce – Parenting Time Enforcement | The Oregon Divorce Blog

  46. Linda says:

    Grandma here and my granddaughter that is 17 of age. Her boy friend 21 has the
    baby son under DHS. Granddaughter is currently in custody for stealing my debit card and other charges. The boy friend has now a custody for the son. He wants her to pay support and who knows what else. He doesn’t let the grandparents see him, which is wrong. What can I do.

    • csstephens says:


      Call us to arrange a consultation. Legal parents, even bad legal parents, have constitutional rights protecting their right to make decisions for their children, including the right to let a child visit a grandparent or not visit a grandparent. Legal parents are presumed to be acting in a child’s best interests. If you have had ongoing contact with the child, you may be able to petition to the court to get the right to see your grandson. I’ve written about this issue on our blog several times. For background information, check out “Can I get Custody of My Grandchildren?”, and “Do I have The Right To Visit My Grandchildren?”

      Sean Stephens

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