Contrary to popular belief, divorce in and of itself does not cause emotional harm to your child. Instead, there are other possible factors, such as you and your ex fighting viciously over custody, that may cause your child emotional pain.
If you and your child’s other parent want custody and neither one of you is unfit, a court may enact a joint-custody arrangement. At some point, though, your son or daughter may express his or her own feelings about where to live. When might you want to start acknowledging your child’s wishes, and how much of a say in the matter should he or she have?
When to let children decide
You know your child better than anyone, and whether your son or daughter should have a say in where to live may depend on that child’s maturity level. Generally, until your child is about 10 or so, sharing custody with your ex may help show the child that you both love and prioritize his or her well-being.
Why you should consider letting your child decide
As your child grows older, he or she may begin developing a more active social life. Your son or daughter may start participating in more extracurricular activities, and homework may also become more intense over time. These and other factors may make it easier for your child to live with one parent over the other.
As your child ages, he or she may also develop a stronger sense of identity and want to assume more control over his or her life. Allowing your child to decide where to live may be difficult, but it may improve your relationship in the long run. Conversely, not considering your child’s wishes in this regard may cause him or her to resent you, which may hinder your ongoing relationship.