Contact a lawyer now

What Is the Legal Age a Child Can Decide Which Parent to Live with in Canada

What Is the Legal Age a Child Can Decide Which Parent to Live with in Canada

Many divorcing parents wonder about the legal age a child can decide which parent to live with in Canada. Some say any age above ten years; others say 12 and even 16 years. The 12th year of a child is a threshold for many courts of Alberta and Saskatchewan to start considering the wishes and opinions of the kid.

By the child custody laws of Canada, especially Ontario, before a child is eighteen, a child cannot decide where they will reside. However, amidst disputing parties over the child’s custody, it is necessary and even humane to bear the minor’s preferences in mind.


The Impacts of Divorce Have on Children

Divorce is a phenomenon that has ravaged many families. The child typically feels stranded when their parents announce a divorce before their kids reach the legal age a child can decide which parent to live with in Canada. Many say the experience makes them feel like the leftover remnants of a ruined family. The younger the children are, the more they feel lost.

The general perceptions garnered are the inability to choose their lives. Often the choices their guardians have made them feel insecure or that they cannot express themselves freely. Despite the court’s best intentions, a slip in judgment can narrow down someone’s emotional opportunities to live a healthy life.

The last thing anyone would want is to be “stuck” between their loved ones. But that is the arduous ordeal that these children have to suffer daily. They want to pick sides based on their benefits because of the daily interactions and events.

One day, the kid might want to choose his dad’s custody for his mom, giving him a tight curfew. The other day, he might select his mother because his father didn’t allow his friends to have a sleepover.


How Divorcing Parents May Inflict Pain on Their Children?

  1. If the divorce isn’t made on good terms and the parents are passively hostile, the child is not likely, to be honest. They are primarily negligent of their feelings because of their parent’s expectations.
  2. On the other hand, when they want to spend time with the other, the child ends up feeling guilty. They are not supposed to be the confidants of the parents, nor a mediator. Yet many parents, for custody, tend to manipulate their kids. Ontario’s court officials take it into their hands to ensure the child isn’t going through emotional blackmailing.
  3. The younger a child is, the easier it is to feel despondent. But that is also not always the case. An adolescent or an older teenager with mental instability or less maturity can be more affected in some instances.

Their uncertainty is why there are usually no frigid rules or ages for which a child is held responsible. This is also why older children’s opinions are customarily heeded. Usually, 12 or 13-year-olds are the threshold when they think of a child’s opinion.


The Center of a Divorce: The Child’s Best Interest

Ontario doesn’t have a legal age a child can decide which parent to live with, in Canada, for anyone underage. A child’s views may be biased and unfavorably varied in multiple situations, but there are other ways of making them feel heard. One possible action that can help the child is getting a psychologist and therapist to feel safe and seen.

A psychologist can help the children realize that parting is just a process and not a permanent crisis. Once the child’s mental state is secured, the court can involve social workers or a children’s advocate to prepare a report called “Voice of the Child document.”

This report proceeds after the agent speaks to the child if the child is above seven years of age. The agent and court will collaboratively gather information from the child from the reports. Below, we have mentioned the knowledge that the court gathers to determine the “best interest of the child.”


Information and Proceedings for the Child’s Best Interest

The courts evaluate the qualifications by the child’s primary requirements and state, such as:

The intimate connections of the child:

  • Everyone is capable of gaining custody, even a grandparent.
  • Other family members.
  • Other carers and responsible guardians who are ready to bring up the child.
  1. Child’s viewpoints and perspectives (if they are legible or capable) are necessary.
  2. The period a child has abided in a natural environment at home decides how comfortable they will be to live there again.
  3. The aptitude of the childcarers that are capable of taking custody. And how enthusiastic and able they provide education and support, special needs, and advice to the child.
  4. The plans the custody proposers offer for the child’s rearing and care.
  5. How stable and long-term the to-be family unit will be.
  6. How parent-like the new guardian will be.
  7. The relationship between the child and the custodian party is intimate and amicable.

Generally, children with more grounds for their preferences will maturely assert their preferences. But the child’s preferences only will not be the only determining factor for child custody.


Professional Interference

When you are going through a divorce and have minor children, it is wise to think about your children’s accumulated trauma. So it is best to have a professional go over your affairs, including a family law expert or a mediator and a therapist.

Disputes amongst family members can scar a confused child. You must always consider their preferences. However, even children with reason cannot decide their fate because their preference over custody is only a factor in custodian affairs.

The court has to consider the financial situation of each member of the custody party, the living situation, the stability of their new home, etc. Hence, the verdict remains that the legal age a child can decide which parent to live with in Canada is 18.



It seems the hardest decision you have ever made to divorce your partner. However, splitting up could save your finances and give you more time with your children in the long run. Hence, you should always put your kids’ well-being first before anything else.

The legal age a child can decide which parent to live with within Canada is 18 years. Keep in mind that your children’s views could be the most significant factor in your decision.

But, not all their viewpoints will include custody and future living and financial affairs. A professional lawyer can help you decide custody, whether an advocate or a mediator. However, your choice will be finalized at the court’s discretion.



What Are the Specific Laws for Who Gets Custody of children in Canada?

The specific laws for who gets custody of the children in Canada are under the federal Divorce Act. Family law varies from province to province. Each province has its own values and guidelines, but all provinces adapt to these Federal Laws.

How Is Custody Decided?

Custody can be decided in a few ways. One parent may file for sole custody, or the parents may agree without going to court. If the parents can’t agree, then the courts will decide based on what they believe is in the child’s best interest.

My Child Is 16 And Doesn’t Want to Live with Me, What Can I Do?

If your child is 16 and doesn’t want to live with you, the court will consider their wishes when making a custody decision.

What If I Want to Move Away with My Children, Can I Do That?

If you want to move away with your children, you need permission from the other parent or the court. If you don’t get approval, you may be violating the custody agreement and could end up in court.