In Oregon, a child does not hold the right to choose which parent they wish to live with. However, it is not unusual for a child to give their preference which parent they wish to live with. Every jurisdiction is different, but generally a court will consider a child’s preference beginning around the age of 11 or 12. A judge is not bound by a child’s preference. Usually a judge will question a child or children in chambers, with the parent’s lawyers present, but not the parents. Through careful questioning a judge can often determine if a child’s preference is valid, or if a parent may have “coached” a child. A judge’s primary concern is what is in the best interests of the child. From the age of 14 to 18, a child’s preference is usually given more weight and more likely to be followed. A parent should always use caution in deciding whether a child should give their preference, many times a child experiences pressure from both parents to decide one parent over the other.
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