At what age can a child decide which parent they want to live with?
My daughter who is 16 wants to live with me but her dad has sole custody of her. People say she can go to a judge and just say she wants to live with me.
It is my understanding that in order to modify a child custody order in Nebraska requires that there be a substantial and material change in circumstances.
Counsel in the area indicate that "it is far more difficult to win a custody case in a modification context than in the initial divorce. The party seeking modification must carry the burden of proof that shows a material change of circumstances that did not exist when the original custody order was put into place. It can also be an expensive and lengthy process, often taking six months to a year to achieve.
However, the wishes of a child can be an important factor in deciding custody. The weight a court gives the child's wishes will depend on the child's age, maturity, and quality of reasons. A court is more likely to follow the preferences of an older child, although the court will want to assess the quality of the child's reasons. If a child wants to be with a parent only because that parent offers more freedom and less discipline, a judge is not likely to honor the preference. A child whose reasons are vague or whose answers seem coached may not have his or her preferences followed.
On the other hand, if a child expresses a good reason related to the child's best interest--such as genuinely feeling closer to one parent than the other--the court will probably follow the preference. Although most states treat a child's wishes as only one factor among many to be considered, a few states allow a child of twelve or fourteen the "absolute right" to choose the parent with whom the child will live, as long as the parent is fit."
Seek consultation from an attorney in your area on all this. If your ex contests the issue it could be a long haul. But if your daughter has good reason to want to move in with you you may have a fighting chance. Good luck.
I recommend that you contact the NE State Bar Association or the local bar association in the city or county you live in about their lawyer referral service.