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Son wants to live with dad, will a judge listen to a child

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What is the name of your state? wyoming

My son lives with his mother presently, but he wants to live with me. There are many reasons to argue that I can provide the better home life, environment, and the ex has some questionable things going on, but mainly, he just wants to be with his dad.

I've been told that the changing of custody before a child is 12 is tough unless there is a substantial change in the existing living arrangements. My question, how much can I get my hopes up that the judge will listen to my son's request?

Also, after his 2 month summer visit, if he refuses to go home to his mother, I understand the legalities are changed. (He has already begged his mom to stay with me in the past.)

thanks for any insight.

Whyte Noise

Senior Member
The answer to your question is that it depends on how old your son is and what his reasons for wanting to stay are before a judge will seriously consider them. If your son is 4 and wants to stay because "I have more fun at dad's house", then forget it. If he's more along the lines of a teenager, and can give VALID resons for wanting to stay with you, then yes, a judge will take that into consideration.

As for your other part... "Also, after his 2 month summer visit, if he refuses to go home to his mother, I understand the legalities are changed." Yes, the legalities would change. You'd be in violation of a court order when your son didn't return when he was supposed to. Doesn't matter that it's your son who doesn't want to go back, YOU are the one under the order to return him at the court ordered time, and when he wasn't there, she could have YOU arrested for it.



It is kind of hard to give you advice, since some things are just not clear. How old is the child? That is very important, since at different ages, the judge will listen. Usually, a judge will listen to a child at the age of 12 or 13, but will not base his decision on that alone. Another question, What does "the ex has some questionable things going on" mean? That could be information that may lean more towards us telling you its a yay or a nay! You are correct by stating that there must be a substancial change in living arragements, but you have not stated what the change in circumstance is. Basically, most judges will not up-root a child from one "stable environment to another" and you are going to have to prove that her residence is not stable. What I do suggest is to start documenting everything, if you haven't already. Also, if you haven't already, I suggest you return your son, if you havent already. If you do plan on fighting for custody, a contempt of court on your record for not returning him will not look so good on your behalf. Good Luck and let us know how things are going!


Okay, some more specific explaining is obviously needed. NO I DON'T INTEND TO KEEP MY SON WITH ME AFTER SUMMER BREAK WHEN IT IS MANDATED THAT HE RETURN TO HIS MOTHER. Under Wyoming law and the divorce degree I know that that would be illegal and insane on my part, but I also know that there is some statement in the same law that says after a child is 12, there is a difference legally speaking. (He has already told me he knows where the bus station is and has money hidden away at home. I have informed him that running away would not solve the problem.)

He is 11 years old and counting down the days until he is 12 when he knows that he might be able to talk to a judge and come live with me. As far as questionable circumstances with the ex, he tells us of his step father going out drinking and playing pool 2-3 times a week, and when he isn't out, his mother is out playing Bingo with friends. He also mentions of the step father often has a few drinks before they all get in the car. Just as of late, the ex has "adopted(foster)" a 15 year old deaf boy that comes from a home for troubled teens. As my son tells me, they hang out all the time together, and he had to give his room over to this kid. I don't know the reason for this new addition, it was never discussed with me and I don't know what kind of influence this teenager will have on my son. If it follows the ex's normal behavior, althought I'm not sure what one gets paid for fostering a handicapped child, I'm sure she's doing it for the money, especially now when my son tells me they are looking to get a new house.

There have been other instances that my son tells me where his mother and he have had to leave the house and even stay in a hotel due to a fight that she and his stepfather had.

I've been documenting these things, but have been told by numerous people that "unfit" in my eyes would be okay by most courts standards.

Right now, my son and I talk often on the phone and he asks for homework help from my wife and I everytime because his mom is out or "busy" and doesn't want to be bothered. He knows that he receives much needed attention when he is with me and my wife and he also feels like he fits in better with us. His mother married someone of a different race and he tells us stories of how previously and especially NOW when they go out now with the new foster brother, he is the only one with light hair and he doesn't look or feel like he is part of the family. He has told my wife that he wishes that she could be his REAL mom and beams with pride when people tell him he looks just like his "mom" when it is really his stepmom he is with.

My son I'm sure CAN articulate to a judge, but he is also very complacent and will not want to upset people. Even though he calls his mom a liar that he's scared of her and mentions other things about her, deep down I know there's got to be love and uncertainty about change. He has come up with numerous reasons of his own of why he wants to live with me-(some quite cute and others heart wrenching).

I'm not a deadbeat dad and fortunatley for my son and unfortunately for me, his mother isn't a deadbeat mom, even thought I find her inept. I want my son to be happy and in the best living situation/environment as possible, and that is why I am wondering as to this 12 year old age being an age where this can happen.



Senior Member
I have a SS that is 12. Per my husband's attorney when he were in a custody battle, the judge may listen and access the maturity level of the child but don't hold a lot of weight to this being the sole reason for a custody change. Have you spoken with your ex on this change? How far away do you presently live from your son?

What is the situation with child support? Do you think this may be an issue for mom not letting your son live with you? Whatever you do, DO NOT MAKE IT A MONEY ISSUE as this will turn a judge on YOU faster than anything.


Thanks for the encouragement and advice.
Unfortunately, I DO believe it is a money issue on my ex's part because a few years ago when the child support was about 1/2 the amount she is now getting, she told my son that she would not stand in his way if he wanted to go live with dad when he was 12. About 8 months later, she denied ever saying it.....this is the biggest lie that she has told to my son and he will never forget it and reminds her of it. She will not rationally discuss this with me (nor other matters) and often goes to her lawyer. On every occasion so far, she ends up "losing" She also selectively "forgets" things and if we try to agree on anything verbally, I now always have to get it in writing.

Presently we live about 3 states away, but this isn't much different from the way it was before our divorce. At the time I commuted 2 1/2 hours to support my wife and child since she didn't want to move away from her family and small town. It was during that time when she found another man to occupy her time when I was late getting home from work. Shortly after finding out and trying to save my marriage, she demanded a divorce, got pregnant by this guy and then married him, all in less than a year.

I catered to the ex too many years....not splitting the commute to p/u my son on weekends, and later, paying for all airfare (which is shorter time traveling for my son than when he had a 12 hours of driving on the weekends) When I finally told her she was responsible for 1/2, she took it to a lawyer and was told to pay up and that she had been unfair all along. She still expects me to cater to her, but I'm done. Money is a motivator to her, but I refuse to try to barter for my son that way.

As far as the "grass greener", I'm sure it is greener on dad's side of the fence, but it's not for the typical reasons one would think. When I discipline my son, he understands why and for what reason. He doesn't get this from his mom. Yes, we go lots of places. Nothing fancy like Disney, but we like to do things as a family. Catching frogs at a nearby creek is just as fun for him as playing with 1 of his many computer or gameboy games that his mom buys for him to "keep him out of her hair" His stepmom doesn't work and is available for him after school and summers so that he wouldn't be put in camp or daycare which he hates. He is very close to her and tells me that he talks and spends more time with her than his real mom. This is sad but true.

My "needs" have already been missing for over 8 years when my ex decided to break up our family. I hurt for my son everyday, and now see him once again being pushed aside for a new foster kid.

I'm hoping that the system is more fair than it has been in the past.....usually deadbeat dads are assumed to be the norm and everyone is in favor of the mom despite which one is actually more competent at caring for the child. I don't want to get my son's hopes up, only to have them dashed, thus I was trying to find out if there were any other people out there with similar circumstances.


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