As of 2017, just under half of all separated families had a legal custody agreement in place. This number has continued to slowly but surely rise, and with good reason.
Having a legal custody agreement settles disputes over parenting time before they can interfere in a child’s life. A common question during custody cases is, “What is the child custody age limit?” Continue reading to learn the answer to this question and more.
How Does Age Factor Into Custody Arrangements?
Although there are no set rules the courts must adhere to, there are basic guidelines revolving around the age of the child or children. These guidelines were formed around the best interests of a child at each developmental stage.
Children under age two usually do best with frequent visitation with each parent. This is because they need to develop strong bonds with their caregivers and cannot do this with long periods of separation.
Children between three and eleven will do better with more extended periods of separation. The best custody arrangement for children in this age group will vary based on the parents and child. There is more flexibility in how arrangements can be made. When parents live longer distances apart, one thing to consider with school-aged children is that they will need to be primarily with one parent during the school year.
Children between twelve and eighteen do best if parents allow flexibility based on the wants of the child. At this age, the child should have some reasonable say in their time with each parent. The child’s other obligations (activities, schooling, work) should also be worked around.
At What Age Are Kids Allowed a Say in Who They Live With?
Most kids are allowed to have a say in who they live with around age twelve. But this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. The matter will depend on the child’s maturity level and reason for their preference, the judge’s opinion, and the exact location in which you reside.
Remember, just because a child is allowed a say doesn’t mean the judge has to abide by it. The child’s preference will be one of many considerations in determining the best interests of the child.
At What Age Does Custody End?
For custody purposes, except in rare circumstances where the parent and child agree to earlier emancipation, your child is considered emancipated when he or she turns 18 years of age.
You may still be responsible for child support after your child turns 18 if the child is still enrolled in and attending high school, but no longer than high school graduation or the end of the school year after your child reaches age 19.
More Questions About the Child Custody Age Limit?
Although custody usually ends at eighteen and children are generally allowed a say in primary residence around twelve, there are no definitive rules. These decisions will be made by looking at many different considerations and determining the best interests of the child.
Do you have more questions about the child custody age limit? Or do you need legal assistance with a custody case?
Contact us today at Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, LLC, and one of our associates will be happy to schedule you a consultation appointment.