Oklahoma Children at Age 14 Are Allowed to Express a Preference
Video Transcribed: At what age can a child express a preference about where they want to live? This is Tulsa attorney, Justin Mosteller with the Grandparents.attorney, and I’m going to discuss this topic with you for a little bit today.
By statute, children at the age of 12 are allowed to express a preference. Now there’s nothing magical about the age of 12, it’s just that the courts presume that at 12 years old a child knows the difference between reality and fantasy and they should be allowed to express a preference.
When they express that preference, it creates a rebuttable presumption that that preference is going to be in the best interest of the child. And if you watched any of our other videos about family law, you know that best interests of the child is the determining factor in where a child is going to live in terms of custody during a divorce or a paternity case or even a guardianship case. Every custody case is ultimately going to come down to best interests.
Now when the child expresses that preference and that presumption is created, it can be overcome. So that’s not the end of the story.
And there’s also some differences in statute between guardianship and other custody cases, as to what age is the right age for that preference to become controlling or at least create the presumption.
In the guardianship statutes in the state of Oklahoma, the age is actually 14. At 14 a minor child is allowed to nominate a person to be their guardian, and that nomination carries some pretty heavy presumptions with it. Similarly, in a family law case, a divorce or a paternity action, a child at 12 years old is allowed to express preference.
That’s different than the nomination, they’re just expressing a preference about where they want to live. And the court must take that consideration into account. And when making their decision, if the child has expressed a preference and the court goes against that stated preference, there needs to be some reasoning in the order about why the court has decided to disregard the child’s stated preference.
Now, if you’ve got a custody issue in the state of Oklahoma, you need a lawyer to represent your interests. And if you’re in that position here in Tulsa, I’d be very happy if you give our office a call. We can be reached at (918) 932-2800 and we’re looking forward to hearing from you.