At What Age Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With in Alberta

At What Age Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With in Alberta - Heidi Dinning

At What Age Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With in Alberta

Divorce can be a very challenging and difficult situation for all– not just for the spouses, but their children as well. There are many things that will need to be negotiated, from finances to the parenting schedule. Depending upon the ages of the children, they may have a say in things as well – and it is important for the parents and the courts to listen to their voices and the child’s wishes.

Take a look below to learn more about this. 

What Age Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With?

While a child cannot have the final say in which parent they live with, in a legal sense, there is a certain age where their perspective will hold more weight. Typically, children who are 12 to 14 or older, have a voice that is given more weight. Of course, if the child is not a minor but still lives at home with their parents, this is another story. An 18 year old or child older then this will be able to choose which parent to live with, without the court getting involved. 

Factors Considered When Placing a Child With a Parent

When the courts are involved and are helping to place children with a custodial parent during a separation or divorce, there are some factors that are heavily considered. We will go over some of the most important and most considered factors below. 


First things first, the maturity of both the child and of the parent should be considered. If the child is immature and is wanting to live with one parent, their opinion might not hold as much weight as if the child was mature. This is, of course, because a lack of maturity might mean that the child is making this choice for the wrong reasons– for instance, living with the parent that will give them free reign and less discipline, this wouldn’t be taking the best interests of the child if we let the child decide in a scenario like this. Likewise, if the parent is immature, then the courts will likely not want to place the child with them because they might not be able to care for the child appropriately.

Situational Details

There are also plenty of details that will come out during a divorce, which can influence which parent the child is being placed with. These details are being referred to, for the purpose of this article, as situational details, because they can differ for each divorce. After all, each divorce is a different scenario. Often, these details can be linked to the reasons for the divorce, such as one parent’s irresponsibility with finances or history of substance abuse, violence or criminal behaviour. 

Health Concerns

If the child has any mental health issues or if the child’s physical health is a concern, the courts will also consider these factors and place the child with the most appropriate parent. The parent that is able to provide the most consistent, safe and stable environment is also going to be who they want to place a child with. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a child choose which parent to live with in Alberta?

No, a child cannot be the one to choose which parent they live with in Alberta. Of course, the parents can take their voices into account, but the final decision is up to the parents and/or any professionals involved in formulating the parenting schedule and living arrangements.

Can a 13 year old decide which parent to live with in Canada?

When it comes to children choosing what parent to live with after a divorce or a separation, there is not a specific age where the child is able to make this choice. The exception to this is if the child is no longer a minor and over 18. However, if it was a 13 year old, for instance, the child can make their preferences known to the parents, but do not necessarily have the final say. Every kid is different, so their needs should definitely be considered when making this decision!

What age can a child refuse to see a parent in Alberta?

There are some situations where a child may not want to see one of their parents anymore after– or during– a separation or a divorce. If the child is aged 14 or over, you can no longer compel them to see the parent that they do not want to see and interact with. At this age, it does actually become an offense to force the child to see the parent. This may come into play if the child feels trapped or there is family violence and the child is being abused by this parent– it can also be because the child is upset about the situation and the divorce, so it is important to get to the root of the issue.

Can I move with my child without father’s permission Alberta?

Generally, no, you cannot move your child without the permission or without notifying the other parent. If you do move without the permission of the non custodial parent or without the permission of the court, you could face legal repercussions in Alberta, and in other areas as well. If you do not have the other parent’s permission, then you do need to get the permission of the court in order to make this move and parenting arrangement or custody arrangement with your child. 

What age can a child refuse to see a parent in Canada?

In Canada as a whole, the age that a child can refuse to see the non custodial parent is older, typically around 14 years of age but again, this is not guaranteed. This may also fluctuate slightly depending on the province you live in, and the overall circumstances of the situation. Bottom line, there is no specific age when a child gets to decide which parent they will live with. Each child is unique, and their views may be considered by a judge or arbitrator when deciding what parenting arrangement is best for the child and their family circumstances. Above all, the courts will do their best to make decisions in the best interests of the child. 

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