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That’s (Not) the Law: When Can a Child Decide?
That’s (Not) the Law: When Can a Child Decide?

When I meet with parents of teenagers, I’m frequently told that “she’s 13, so she gets to decide where she lives,” or asked “how old does he have to be before he gets to decide?”  Wherever you read this or heard it, let me clear it up: in the state of Colorado, a young adult gets to decide where to live at age 18.

Of course, like in most areas of the law, that rule is both simple and complex.  While a child can’t decide where to live until becoming an adult, the court can take their desires into account.

In setting parenting time, Colorado courts are required to consider what are known as the best interest factors.  This is a list of nine criteria for the court to consider. The second factor is the wishes of a child, if the child is mature enough to make a reasoned decision.  That means that while a 13-year-old can’t decide where she lives, the court can consider what she wants as part of determining what is best for her.  However, it is ultimately up to the parents or the Court to determine living arrangements.

What I hear from parents versus the actual state of the law brings to light a couple of issues.  First, beware of what you read on the internet!  Just because a site has information that may seem authoritative, that information may not be complete or accurate.  Secondly, even when you have a couple of simple rules that are accurate, there will often be more to explore in determining how the court interprets the law.

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