It can be a devastating blow to your feelings to find out that your child doesn’t want to live with you after a divorce. As a parent, you want to be there for your child and believe that they should receive all the support that you’re able to provide. If they don’t want to live with you, you may feel hurt or abandoned by them when you really wanted to be there to support them.
Before you make any decisions, remember that children don’t technically have a right to decide where to live after a divorce. While their opinion matters, it’s still the responsibility of you, your ex and the court to make sure that your child is in a situation that truly represents their best interests.
Custody mediation may help with older children’s concerns
One thing you might consider doing is allowing your child to come to a custody mediation session between you and your ex. If you are trying to work out a schedule together, it may be beneficial to hear what your child has to say and why they feel the way they do.
For example, your child might say that they want to live with their father because his home is closer to their school. In that case, you may negotiate a schedule during the school year that allows them to stay closer to activities and classmates. Then, you might work out a summer schedule that gives you more time with your child while making sure they can still keep up with activities and friends while they’re out of school.
Similarly, if you go to mediation and explain why your child’s preferences can’t determine custody, it could them understand your actions. For example, a teenager might want to live with their mother, but if she won’t be home through the week due to work, then they may see that the reason they can’t live there is understandable.
With older children, especially teens coming close to going to college or leaving home, having frank discussions about custody can help. Keep this in mind if you need to work out a schedule with three or more people’s preferences in mind.