Q: My daughter is 14 years old and I have been divorced from her father for several years. When she was young, she enjoyed spending time with her father but now, for a number of reasons, she no longer wants to visit with him on weekends as she has previously done. People have told me that, now that she is a teenager, the court will let her decide where she goes. Is this true?

A: While the child's reasonable preference is one of many factors the court takes into consideration when determining custody and parenting time, it is the court and the parents, and not the child who must ultimately determine custody and a parenting time schedule in accordance with the child's best interests. As children grow older, they tend to spend more time with their peers, And this is a normal part of growing into adulthood. However, under the Child Custody Act, there is a presumption that it is in the child's best interest to have a close relationship with both parents, which in most cases means that the child will spend time with the noncustodial parent on a regular basis. Even though children sometimes object to going away on weekends to visit with a parent, the courts will often continue the pattern of weekend parenting time until the child leaves home. The court well look at the totality of circumstances, and, while the child's reasonable preference will be considered, all the custody factors remain relevant throughout the child's years at home.

For more information about child custody factors, click here.