The short answer is no, however, under Michigan law in every Michigan custody case a child has a right to be heard and the court must consider the child’s preference in awarding custody and parenting time.
In every Michigan parenting time or child custody case the trial court is required to consider the statutory best interest factors set forth in Michigan Compiled Laws Section 722.23.
Best interest of the child factor (i) requires the trial court to examine the reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference.
At what age can a child decide who to live with?
The Michigan Court of Appeals answered this question in the case of Maier v. Maier. In Michigan, a child over the age of six is presumed to be capable of forming a reasonable preference and in the case of Kubicki v. Sharpe. However, just as adults may lake the capacity to give competent testimony (i.e. if disabled), a child’s capacity may be compromised by circumstances in his/her life.
The Court must interview the child.
In the case of Kubicki v. Sharpe, the Michigan Court of Appeals decided that the trail court must conduct an interview of the child in all but the most extraordinary of circumstances stating:
Regardless whether the parties wished for an interview, the court was affirmatively required to consider the child’s preference.
Kubicki v. Sharpe pgs. 544-545
Furthermore, parents cannot agree to waive this requirement.
So can a child decide who to live with?
The answer is no because a trial court must consider all twelve best interest of the child factors and the child’s preference (factor (i)) is only one of the twelve best interest factors.
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By: Daniel Findling