May 15

My Kids Want to Live With Me Now. What Should I Do?

Child custody always seems to be a hot-button issue, and no matter what type of agreement the parents have, issues always seem to arise.

In most child custody cases, one parent is usually awarded physical custody of the child. This means that the child resides with that parent more often, and that is the designated as the child’s legal address. Even if parents have joint legal custody of the child, which means that both parents have a say in how the child is raised, one parent usually has physical custody.

Sometimes, situations will change, and the child will decide that he or she no longer wants to live with the parent with physical custody and instead want to live with the other parent. When this situation arises, you may often wonder what to do.


Most states have laws against if and when a child can make this decision. In some states, children are allowed to choose when they turn 14. In other states, children are not allowed to make the decision at all. If your child has said they want to live with you, the following are a few things you can do to make it a reality.

 Talk with your child

If your child has expressed interest in moving in with you, talk with them openly about why. You may find that they really don’t like living with the other parent, or you may find that your child is using this as a temporary solution. For example, your child may want to seriously move in with you because the other parent is abusive to the child or to themselves, or maybe because that parent is never home and the child doesn’t want to be alone. If this is the case, then you can take legal action to get your child to move in with you. If you find that your child simply wants to move in with you because he or she got into a fight with their other parent, then you may want to simply talk to them about dealing with the problem instead of running from it.

Talk with your ex

If your child truly wants to move in with you, you should have a conversation with your ex. Don’t just take the child away, as you could face legal action, but instead talk with your ex about your child’s wishes. If you think it will help, you should also have your child talk with your ex so that your ex can see that this information is truly coming from the child. In these cases, it may be best to have a mediator present.

 File a change of custody order

In order for your child to be able to legally move in with you, you will need to file a change of custody order with the courts. Depending on the state you live in, your child may have to testify in court that they want to live with you. And again, depending on the state, this may be all you need, or it may be an aid in what the judge ultimately decides.

Sometimes, the judge will allow the change of custody based solely on your child’s wishes. In other cases, they may need proof that the current physical custodial parent is unfit to parent. In order to know what to expect, it’s best that you consult with an attorney to thoroughly review your options.