At what age can children decide where they live?

There is no minimum age for a child to be able to express their view about where they want to live in a parenting dispute.

The Family Court decides how much weight it gives to a child’s view based on the child’s maturity and understanding and whether or not the child has been influenced.

For example, if a 9 year old boy shows high levels of maturity and understanding the Court may place great weight on his views.

If a 14 year old girl wants to live with her dad because he buys her presents, but mum has been the primary carer, a Court may assess her as being influenced by factors not in her best interests and give little weight to her wishes.

The child’s views are obtained through being interviewed by a Court consultant or a report writer. A family report is then prepared for the Court suggesting a parenting arrangement.