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At What Age May the Child Decide Where He Wants to Live in Minnesota Divorce Cases?
(provided by Eric C. Nelson, Esq.)

In Minnesota, there is no particular age at which a child gets to decide which parent he wants to live with. Generally, the older the child, the more weight the child's preference carries, whether in the initial custody determination or in the context of a motion to modify custody (1). Still, the child's preference alone is an insufficient basis for modification of custody (2). There must be a showing of endangerment, at least on an emotional level, in order to modify custody (3). The child's preference is an important factor and often a sine qua non of a showing of endangerment.

* THE INFORMATION IN THIS ARTICLE IS NOT ADVICE FOR YOUR PARTICULAR CASE. FOR GUIDANCE ON YOUR SITUATION, CONSULT WITH ERIC C. NELSON, ATTORNEY. ALSO, THIS INFORMATION APPLIES ONLY TO MINNESOTA LAW, AND NOT TO THE LAW OF ANY OTHER STATE OR COUNTRY.

(1) See Ross v. Ross, 477 N.W.2d 753, 756 (Minn.Ct.App. 1991) [citing State ex rel. Feeley v. Williams, 222 N.W.2d 927, 928 (Minn. 1929) (preference of 12 1/2 year-old given great weight in maintaining her custody with aunt and uncle)].

(2) Geibe v. Geibe, 571 N.W.2d 774 (Minn.Ct.App. 1997) (motion for modification of custody denied without a hearing despite 17-year-old's preference to change custody).

(3) Harkema v. Harkema, 474 N.W.2d 10, 14 (Minn.Ct.App. 1991) (reversing trial court's denial of evidentiary hearing in case involving emotional abuse) (citation omitted).

Information provided by:
Eric C. Nelson, Esq. located at
http://www.divorcesource.com/MN/DS/nelson.html

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