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Money, Sex, Power and Puberty (A child's Preference in Custody)

I remember being thirteen. I remember thinking that Ashley was the hottest thing in the eighth grade, or was it Audrey, or Crystal, or BeBe, or Leslie get the idea. I remember not knowing if my Dad wanted to be my friend or my father. I remember I wanted designer clothes, less rules, more video game time and no consequences. I wanted power, money, and I didn't know what sex was entirely, but I was definitely interested.


I look back now and I know that my hormones were out of control. My body was trying to assimilate to that little thing called adulthood and it created quite a tug of war between my parents and I. I couldn't understand why my door had to be opened when my girlfriend was over, or why I had to do homework or cut the yard. My parents knew though. They were there to guide me and to make the right decision for me when I couldn't make them for myself. This is what I now as an adult refer to as parenting.

Imagine giving me the power to tell my parents, "No, I don't want to mow the yard and if you don't like it, you better find a way to live with it", or "i'll shut my door and do whatever I like with whomever I please." Looking back, I am very grateful and didn't have the authority to say anything remotely close.

In a separated household we have a Primary Residential Parent and a Alternated Residential Parent. The terms reflects where the child lives the majority of the time.
It is an issue that can cost thousands of dollars to dispute in Court and it is something Courts hate to decide, but when called upon to do so, they put a great amount of thought and time into deciding.

There is a urban legend that a 12 or 13 year old gets to choose where they want to live. I don't know where it came from. It is what I like to call street law. "I know a guy, that knows a guy, that hired an attorney once and they said...." It is true that at 12 a child can have their preference heard in a petition to modify custody, but it is not the deciding factor.

Giving a child that type of power would be a pandora's box that would cause parents to bend to the will of adolescents trying to cope with acne, young love and rebellious angst. It would mean discipline would disappear and fear of loss would take over. I assure you such is not the case.

The factors in deciding child custody can be found in TN Code 36-6-106. I've linked the code section and you can see that the choice of a child is one of many factors to be contemplated. The important thing to remember is that before any of these factors come into place, a petition has to be filed seeking a change. So don't be afraid to be a parent, and make them keep the doors open; the mind of a 13 year old boy is a scary thing.


#2 alienated Mom 2010-10-23 19:56
I think your idea of having seminars is a great idea. There are so many subjects concerning divorce/custody that come up again and again. People many times have the same questions.
If you ever wish to hold a seminar concerning difficult custody cases, where one parent is sabotaging the children, refusing visitation and the children end up acting like they hate the other parent, I would be willing to speak at a seminar.
When a parent is being methodically eliminated from the child's life by the actions of the other parent, many parents have no clue what is happening and how to respond. This happens more often than most are aware.
I went through many years of hateful actions by my child and the other parent. I had denied visitation, and I was not part of my child's life for years. My actions for contempt against the other parent were constantly delayed, postponed and rescheduled.
I could speak and offer hope to others that are experiencing this
#1 alienated Mom 2010-10-23 19:32
While the rules regarding custody are clearly stated in the annotated code, it only seems to be a suggestion. Unfortunately all it takes is ONE parent who refuses to follow the rules of the court and who is bent on obtaining custody. They can and do brainwash the child. The child will then go into court stating that they refuse to be with a parent, even if that parent is the parent who will make sure the child visits with the other parent. The judges hands are then tied, because they know the child will run away to the other parents home.
Parents who refuse to follow the rules of the court, who refuse visitation are NOT held in contempt as the law states.
How do I know? I am a parent whose child was brainwashed to "hate me". Yes, I was afraid to parent my child, because anything I did was blown out of proportion and used against me in court.
Happy to report that things change in time and children do realize things later.

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