In case of a friendly divorce, should the children (say 8 year old) be able to choose with which parent to mainly live or should this decision mainly rest with the parents?

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    This is POB and will require legal advice from a lawyer.
    – Bugs
    Apr 10, 2017 at 14:24
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    For my opinion, I believe the parents will have to make the decision as they see fit. In my situation, our step son lives with us (his Mother) and every night his Father sees him for a couple of hours after school. They also alternate weekends. This has worked very well. Good luck.
    – Bugs
    Apr 10, 2017 at 14:30
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    I think that no matter what, the children have to win as much as it is possible in this situation. Parents are always parents and in this area, need to remain a team. If parents are able to separate childrearing from all the emotional issues that come with divorce or separation, then they have remained good parents. When one parent refuses to act like an adult -- everyone loses. I think pre-marital classes should include a large discussion on this issue and perhaps be in a 'contract' -- not legal, but signed by both potential parents -- just as a wake up call.
    – WRX
    Apr 10, 2017 at 20:15
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    It may be an odd thing to do, but around the early teens our parents actually discussed with us what should happen should they ever split. having this conversation before it becomes an issue is important. It's like making burial/cremation arrangement before you die; nobody wants to do it but it helps everyone if or when the time comes.
    – Weckar E.
    Jun 15, 2017 at 12:59
  • Why closed with the argument above? In my opinion this question can be related to all these points: matters of upbringing, safety considerations, food and feeding, health and hygiene, development and growth, language development, behavior and social skills, discipline and punishment, childrens'/family games for developmental purposes or parental sanity. Mar 7, 2019 at 16:09

2 Answers 2


The short answer is no. (This is my opinion, I am not a lawyer.)

Joe, I think a large part of this has to be the legal part. Where I live, custody is mediated or awarded by the court system. At eight, a child will be heard in that process but the decision lies with the best interest of the child, not in what the child wants.

If you have joint custody, I would highly recommend that both parents live close enough to the school so that school is always the same. Set up a bedroom in both homes and try to keep the same rules and routines in both.

In our situation (we divorced when our daughter was 8), we each have her for one week plus a weekend. No decisions are made by only one parent unless it was an emergency. We 'spot' each other for special events and holidays. We totally parent and cooperate as the family we are. I recently have had a medical issue, so my daughter has been at my ex's for a month. Flexibility is key.

If you do not have joint custody -- that pretty much means your decision has been made. If one parent moves away -- they are the one that loses access. The only reason is to allow the child to stay in the familiar environment. I say this 'blind'. If both parents and the child all agree the child should move -- then that works, if the court agrees.

You say this is friendly. I hope so because our situation has added a good something to our lives. We've both repartnered with wonderful people and our daughter loves them.


What the child wants should definitely be worthy of consideration but the fact remains that rarely would what the child wants actually be in the best interest of the child.

There could very easily be one parent that was always the 'nice' parent while the other one was always the one that maintained discipline.

It would be natural that the child would want to live with the 'nice' parent but having the child live in a house devoid of discipline is not entirely good.

Another thing you should consider is that even if your divorce is amicable that does not mean you can decide on the child's future without any state intervention.

At the very least there will have to be a social worker who has to work on the case.

Also do not agree to anything without the consultation of a family lawyer. Your will most assuredly regret that. I would also not contact your ex in any manner without at the very least your own lawyer present. There has to be a record of all communications.

It is possible that even if things seem good now it can turn sour at any time. Remember that your ex can get her own lawyer at any time and if you do not have your own representation then things will go bad for you.

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