I am a father and I have custody, my daughter will soon turn 14, can she decide who to live with?

Additional Information:

We live in Lowell.  My wife has a mental illness and has made bad decisions in the past, lets my daughter do whatever she wants and is basically more of a friend than a parent to my daughter. She lies and manipulates my daughter and I have totally stayed out of that game and am committed to being a parent..PERIOD. However, now that my daughter is turning 14 and her mother is more lenient and lets her do what she wants, I am worried that my daughter may want to go live with her mother. What can I do to stop this? She is doing so well with me, all A’s and B’s in school, has lost weight, is involved in dance, has a great stable home, a sister, a good step mother and good friends about to enter High School. Why change now?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Should your daughter wish to go live with her mother, the mother will have to file a Complaint for Modification and prove that a change a custody is warranted by a material change in circumstances that is in the best interests of the child. As your daughter gets older, the Court will give some consideration of her wishes but she does not get to choose which parent she lives with. The best thing you can do is continue to do a good job parenting your child and deal with it should a complaint for modification be filed or your daughter start to ask you if she can live with her mother.

The Greater Lowell child custody attorneys at Berid & Schutzbank serve all of Middlesex County, Essex County, Worcester County, and the Merrimack Valley region including Andover, Billerica, Burlington, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Groton, Lawrence, Lowell, Methuen, North Andover, Pepperell, Tewksbury, Westford, and Wilmington, Massachusetts.