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Micky, you asked me two questions:
Can I legally leave the state of Michigan with my mom before my 18th birthday even if my dad doesn't want me to? Answer: No, you cannot legally leave the state of Michigan before your 18th birthday if you dad doesn't want you to. However, ON your 18th birthday, you may move anywhere you want to move.

Can he do anything to her about me leaving with her even though they are not divorced or legally separated? Your dad would have to file for divorce and then file for custody and get an order seeking your return. It would be expensive for him to do that. Because of your age and the fact that you have already graduated from school, I would not be surprised if the court would enter an order allowing you to go / stay with her. Before the case would even get to court, you would be 18. Best of luck to you. Try really hard to remain friends with both parents. A person really needs two parents.


I am 17 (will be 18 in 2 months and a couple days). My mom got a job in PA and is moving there without my dad soon. He was against her taking a job out of state so she is leaving him to do it. The job won't wait until I'm 18. My mom and I are very close and I want to go with her. I'm already out of school so there's no worry there.
I'm afraid that my dad (who I don't get along with and never have) will do something to my mom if I choose to travel with her against his wishes. They are not divorced. My mom hopes that someday he'll come to his senses. They have been struggling to pay bills here and mom couldn't find work in her field for the past 4 years. He won't even downsize the house so they can afford to keep up the family home.

Can I legally leave the state of Michigan with my mom before my 18th birthday even if my dad doesn't want me to?
Can he do anything to her about me leaving with her even though they are not divorced or legally separated?

Concerned Grandparent

I am a concerned grandparent. I have 2 grandsons age 14 and 12 who live in Michigan with their Mother and their Father lives in Texas. The mother has had legal custody of the children and has had for the past 11 years. She only lives off the child support sent to her by the Father. She has never worked and now I figure out she is drinking a lot.

When the kids visit, or when we see them, we never speak badly of their Mother. We only want to speak of her in good terms and we never want them to go home and tell Mom we have said something negative about her.

We now find out she is drinking a lot. How can the boys be approached about living with their father. we don't want to influence them, however we know they would be so much better in a loving and fun and clean home environment with their father as opposed to a homelife with the mother and a life where they haven;t got much to do and they have to make their own food - if there is food in the cupboard.

I guess we would just like a little advise on how the best way to proceed would be. There is not much funds for an attorney and need some help and advise.


Jeanne M. Hannah

If you do online classes, then you are not actually changing school systems. If your mother isn't living in the community where she wants you to attend school, what's her point? If you decide to home school, then your mom would have to file a motion to show cause your father. The court would schedule a "best interests" hearing on the issue whether the change in your educational path was in your best interests. If you've been living with your father a long time (years) and he is the one to whom you look primarily for guidance, comfort, discipline and the necessities of life, your mother's burden of proof would be by clear and convincing evidence. That is a huge burden on her . . . one she might not be able to meet.

It's not clear to me why the court did not listen to your wishes, but perhaps because so many factors were in your father's favor that the court decided it was not necessary--meaning that even if you told the referee or judge your preference, your dad was going to be awarded custody anyway.


I'm 15, almost 16, and my parents are divorced. They have gone through a rough, long court case over changing where I live. My mother (who I cannot stand) has always been the 'bad guy' in my life. When I was eight, I was dealing with depression, and anxiety issues. To this day, I still deal with these problems, but my mom doesn't seem to understand she is the root problem in my life. We are allowed to move 100 miles away from her, that's what the court said. (I live in Oakland county, by the way.) But the thing is, my mother said I cannot switch schools, so I have to keep going to the school that her city has. But she is moving, so basically that is forcing me to move to that city so I can go to school there. My father is my best friend, my rock, and has saved my life multiple times. But hes getting so frustrated with this whole thing, that he doesn't care about the courts anymore. We are moving out of the county, and I will probably be doing online schooling. The thing is, where i'm moving to isn't very far, and my mom has no idea that i'm moving yet. I'm afraid that my dad will go to jail, and i'll be stuck with my mom, and then i'd probably hurt her or myself. I KNOW that I cannot chose where I want to live, but the court didn't even consider speaking to me, or any of my counselors.Is that even right? And would my dad go to jail for moving me away from the school district my mom said I have to go to? The court wouldn't make me go live with my mom, would they?


I have a ten year old son going on eleven in two months and every summer he cries cause he don't want to spend the summer with his dad.My son had emotional problems thrughout the school year i had to get him help but it did not work now the summer is here and i still have to let him go it's so hard to see my child with all these worries it is a battle that he has to face but it breaks my heart to see him like this and all i can do is make him go only if i could find out what age were he could make his own mind parent he could stay with

Jeanne M. Hannah

Dear Lexxis,

I wish you had written a while ago. School will be out soon. The best way to solve problems like yours is to tell someone who is a "mandated reporter"--someone who by law is required to make a report to child protective services about what is bad about your living situation. Since school may already be finished in Texas by now--or at any rate is nearly finished, that won't help you.

Perhaps your mother could suggest to your dad that you are having a hard time with parenting time (I think it's called "visitation" in Texas) and ask him if he would just let you decide.

The most important thing is that both of your parents leave you out of the middle. You should not be made to carry messages or negotiate this issue. Maybe you have a relative who could do it for you.

Do stay safe and well.


Hello. My name is Lexxis. I live in texas. I live with my mom but I switch weekends with my dad. I really dislike my father. He disappoints me & drinks a lot. He's been to jail more than half my life. Is there a possible way I could just stay wih my mom? I don't think I can take my dad anymore. He makes me angry.

Jeanne M. Hannah

Hello Dominic,

Unfortunately, unless your dad files a motion to change custody or parenting time you are stuck. That's the bad news. The good news is that once you are 18 years and 1 minute old . . . you can do anything you want because you are an adult! Best to you.


I'm 15, 16 this coming November, and I don't like it at my moms. She doesn't hit me or anything, but she put me through a lot and (I KNOW so many teenagers say this) she just doesn't seem to understand. She threatens to make me go to therapy unless I have friends over regularly. I recently fought to stay at my dads for a much longer time and won, it's now week on week off. I thought things would get better and they almost did. But then she brought up this crap about me not being social enough. I don't hang out a lot outside of school, it's true, but I was happy before she started this crap again. I always get anxiety thinking of being here and coming to this place.

I just want to go home. My dad's house is my home. Not here. I know it's possible for my dad and step mom to file something, but is there any way I can do it without them? I live in Illinois, and a lot of the judicial system is still prejudice against Fathers. But mine tries so hard to be in my life and be there for me and earn money so we can all live comfortably. I didn't want to do this until I was 16, but now... I can't wait that long. I don't believe it's healthy for me mentally or emotionally to be here. She's just.. Whoever she is... This woman is not the mother I used to have; perhaps she never was. She's greedy and close-minded. I don't feel comfortable here. I don't feel comfortable or safe being around her. Is there anything else I can do on my own? And no. I can't talk to her. It took me 6 months to get myself to where I am now fighting and trying to convince her. I've asked her already, she said no.

Jeanne M. Hannah


I'm not sure where you live. In Michigan, young people under the age of 18 (17 if they formally emancipate) do not get to choose which parent they wish to live with. However, if your mom has filed a motion to change custody, you might get to tell the judge or circuit court referee your wishes. The best way to do this is to give logical reasons why it would be better to live with one parent rather than the other.

For example, a judge won't find this to be a good reason: "My Mom lets me eat pizza every day if I want to." Or "My dad lets me watch TV until the middle of the night."

Reasons like this are what the court is looking for: "My [parent] screams at me, belittles me and hits me when [the parent] is angry." Or "I have no friends where I live with [parent]. If I could live with [other parent], I not only have friends, but I have a grandma
and grandpa and aunts, uncles and cousins to do things with."

Those are examples. Always tell the truth. As Mark Twain said: "Tell the truth. No one has a good enough memory to lie . . . because they cannot remember what they earlier said." [Or words to that effect.]

Take good care of yourself.


Hi, I am 14 and i will be 15 in 2 months. My parents got divorced many years ago and my dad got full custody of me and my older sister. My older sister is now over 18 and moved out of the house. I am stuck with my dad and i cant stand it. He used to hit me but it was never serious enough to show. He does not hit me anymore but i still dont like being with him. He is remarried. We got in a really major fight recently and i asked to go live with my mom. He told me that i have no choice and that a judge will not care what i have to say. My reasons to live with my mom are nothing serious that my dad could get in trouble for but in my personal belief they could let me live with my mom. My mom has gone to court and filed for another custody hearing. Will i have any say?

Jeanne M. Hannah

Summer, the question that you have asked is answered in the blog post.

summer brastine

i am 16 do i still have the choice to pich parent i want to live with???


hey my name is chris, i live with my mom in florida im 16 i want to live with my dad but dont want to go to court for it what is the legal age?


I divorced in 2008 from a marriage of 18 years. We have 4 children, one of whom is an adult. While we have joint custody, the children live in my home with my current husband and our child together. My ex has been pushing for the last couple of years to have our 13 yr old move with him. I have said no each time as I believe the children should stay together. We live in a small house then my ex however our 13 yr old strives in her school, straight A student, in all sports, student council, girl scouts and has great friends her whole childhood. She has been led to believe she will get a better education at a private larger school in the city her dad lives in..(about 30 miles away). We live in a town of 2500. She has recently stated she wants to move to get a better education and our house is too small. What 13 year old says that as the reason? My ex's new wife has a family with money and he is now telling me either I make a decision to let her go or he will take me to court so our daughter can make a decision for herself. I cannot afford expensive court battle, however don't want to let our daughter go as I feel it's not in her best interest. I honestly think it will impact her being away from her siblings/friends over the course of time. I have suggested a mediator to learn our daughter true intention..but my ex says that is more expensive. I feel bullied into making a decision I am not ready for and looking for advice.

Jeanne M. Hannah


One of two things needs to happen. Either your mother has to file a motion to change custody or protective services needs to be involved. School is about to start. If you describe the physical violence you describe above to your school counselor, that person is compelled by law to call protective services.

If an investigation shows that your father's physical discipline is too harsh and inappropriate (and some of what you describe above certainly sounds like it), the juvenile court may open a neglect / abuse case and place you with your mother.

jessica terry

hi i'm 13 years old, my mom and dad never got married and my dad got me at the age of 2, i want to live with my mom.. but i always so comfused.. i feel safer at my moms, i have my sister-16 and my baby brother 1- at my moms .. and i want to be with them. My dad hits me though, he's choked me, kicked me, samcked me, pulled my hair, none of them left any long lasting marks but still, my dads not really home that muh either, i dont mean to be mean to hime but i DONT love him.. hes mean.! I feel he never wants me to be happy its always his dumb girlfriend first.. and i dont even like her!! He still lives with his parents and his girlfriends moving in.. UGHH!! He says hes "building" a new house in dewitt_ we are currently living in east lansing. but hes been saying that were moving out every summer. i just need help does my mom have any chance. This is not only for me but for her to, she been backing out because she feels there is knoe way to get me home! HELP PLEAAAASEE!! i cant be with him much longerr..


Jeanne M. Hannah

Brady, I would like to be able to give you the answer you want to hear. However, unless your mother will file a motion with the court to modify the current custody and parenting time order, you cannot just leave your dad's house and live with your mother.

One of the things you would be able to do if your mother filed the motion is this: you can tell the judge your preference. This will usually happen privately in chambers (the judge's office). You will need to have some very good reasons for why you want to make this change. Being able to stay up til 2 AM every night isn't a good reason. But if your preference is reasonable, the judge will give it strong weight.

Preference alone is not enough in most courts. At least that is true in Michigan. There has to be some other good cause or change in circumstances also that justifies the court taking another look at the custody.


I am 17 and I live with my dad and I want to live my mom. I am currently in Rochester, MN and my mom lives in owatonna, MN. I have talked to my dad about moving with my mom but he says that I can't choose were I want to live but i know I can.
If you could get back to me as soon as possible that would be great.
Thank you,

Jeanne M. Hannah

Brice, I am sorry my response is so delayed. I have been working long hours on a kidnapping case.

I am so sorry that you and your sister are going through this. Why won't your dad file a motion in court for a change in custody? If he did that, it sounds as though you'd have enough evidence of good cause to change custody that it could happen. Both you and your sister would get a chance to tell the referee and/or judge why you want to live with your dad.

It is commonly thought that children may choose where they want to live when they are 14. But that really is not true. What does your Dad say when you talk to him about this?

Please go up to History on your Internet browser and delete the history for my blog. I would hate to have you get into trouble if your mom looked at your history and saw this conversation.

I really wish you well and a way out of this! Jeanne M. Hannah


Hi, I'm 15 and live in MI my parents offically got a divorce a year ago and they started out with a week on week off schedule, that is until my sister and I didnt feel safe with my mom and her drinking habits and almost getting my sister killed twice. Before the divorce she was the best mom that could be then after she changed into a controlive drunken whore (excuse my language) she currently has about 5 boyfriends who dont know about eachother and has at least 3 of them are juts "sex friends". Now to my problem my sisiter and I both want to stay with my dad but my mom wont let us leave and we've been to theropy and told her about what needs to change to get our trust back and nothings changed. She has called me "Dumb" for not liking her and she has also said "Your just wasting everbodies time" to me. We both just want to get away from her and live with our dad, but my sister wont speak up unless I start so when we tell our mom something I have to be there. I've heard that at the age of 14 you can decide who you want to live with, is that true? I have writen down incidents and reasons of why I want to get away from my mom and just live with my dad and I've been thinking about going to court becasue that seems like my only option at this point becasue we've tried everything that we can think of to get it through her head that the drinking and fighting needs to stop and she needs to start acting like a parent and the theropist agreed with us but she just wont stop. Everytime i go to her house we always end up fighting and i HATE it and whenever im around her i feel mad and angry at her but any other times like when im with my dad im the happiest person on earth. even my friends notice the change and they dont want to hangout when im at my moms becasue she makes them uncomfortable when she gets drunk and fights with us and yells at us for nothing. for example when we went on vacation she got so drunk that she came home and then thought the closet was her room reached for the handle then missed, fell onto my friend who was in bed sleeping becasue it was so late then later violently started barfing. many of these inccedents have happened where shes came home drunk and with strange guys when our whole family and even our aunts have yelled at her for her actions and she just wont get it. please help me and my sister get away from here so we no longer have to suffer and we can go and be happy with our dad.

Jeanne M. Hannah

Jason, I am sorry to reply so late. I have been out of town for court.

I sure wish I could give you the answer you want . . . but I cannot. Michigan law says that until you are 18, your parents decide where you live. If they don't agree, then the court decides. You have really good reasons for the change, though.

The best thing would be if your parents would agree. Do you think they would consider this? Perhaps you could talk to your school counselor (too late this year) or a minister so you would have an adult to help you by having them talk to your parents. You shouldn't be caught in the middle.

If your Mom could find "good cause" or a "change in circumstances" since the most recent custody order was submitted, then she could petition the court for a change in custody if your dad doesn't agree.


hey i am 11 years old and i live with my dad he and my mom got divorced when i was about three or for.i have two older sisters and one lives with my grandma and my papaw and the other one lives here at my dads house with me.she is 14 years old and even though i am only 11 i would like to live with my mom and dad has a girlfriend and she has two boys who also live in the house with us and they are 11 years old and 9 years old we never get along and when i am at my mom and stepdads house i sleep better and have so much fun there i dont have to share my room with mom told me that when her and my stepdad have their own kid i still wont have to share my room.i belive what my mom says her and my stepdad show us how much they love sister who is 14 goes to my mom and stepdads house when her and my dad have been aruging with each can i choose to live with my mom or not.

Jeanne M. Hannah


Children 9 and 11 usually do better in a week on / week off schedule. If the children are picked up on Friday at school (after school) they have their homework with them. In a 4/3 division of time, it becomes more and more difficult as the children get older to have a seamless coordination with school and school activities.

If your husband wished to work with the mother on the parenting time schedule, he might have to give a little to get what the children want--more continuity. If ex-wife gave up the parental preference in exchange for week on / week off, then likely everyone could be happy. Sometimes, parents who live close to each other add a mid-week dinner (5 PM to 8 PM or 9 PM) for the parent who doesn't have the children in a week. You would be amazed at how little difference this change in parenting time would make in the child support obligation.

If you and your husband would like to consult with me about drafting a proposed modification order, please call my office. 231-275-5600


I have 2 step-children whom I've lived with since December 2008. Their father and I married in October 2010. When the biological parents were going through their divorce, they were both working and neither remarried. So, they agreed on a 4-hour rule, which states, "When the custodial parent at the time is going to be away from the children for more than 4-hrs, then the other parent has the first right of refusal." The problem that the children are now having, is that their mom is now a stay-at-home remarried parent who will not refuse to take the children when my husband is working. I am permanently disabled due to left hip DTD, so I am also home full-time. The children would like to be able to stay "home", which according to the divorce papers, their residence is here with their father, although there is a joint-custody. Is it possible for the children to tell an advocate that they do not wish to have the 4-hour rule any longer since both their mother and step-mother are stay-at-home parents? The oldest of my step-children will be 11 years old in one week while her brother just turned 9 years old in April.

My husband would like to have the 4-hour rule dismissed, while his ex-wife would like a week on and week off schedule. Neither will budge and the children do not want to be away from either parent for a full-week, but the children are scared to tell their mom that they would just like to visit her on her scheduled days each week. My husband has 4 out of the 7 nights each week and does not want to give up what he fought to win when his wife (currently ex-wife) walked out on him and the children.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. We live in Southeast Michigan and I've been told as a step-parent, I have no rights. So, I am lost on what I can do or what I can inform the children to do if they really want the 4-hour rule eliminated.

Jeanne M. Hannah

Amy, the custodial parent is responsible to ensure that the non-custodial parent receives his or her parenting time. You may have to file a complaint with the Friend of the Court for enforcement.

See page 18 of Michigan's Friend of the Court Parenting Time Guidelines at paragraph E. You can access that online here.

Also see the part about being flexible with older children whose social needs and extracurricular activities may make the current parenting time order unworkable.


Hi I have a 14 yrs old daughter who lives with her father(he has full custody)I get her on holidays and half the summer.She is at the age where she wants to stay at her dads during the whole summer,maybe get a part time job.
What happens if he doesnt send her here for visitation like the court papers say?Is he at fault?
Or do we end up back in court so I still get to see her in the summer time.They reside in Ohio.Thank you

Jeanne M. Hannah

Dear "please",

I am sorry to be delayed in responding. I have been in court out of town.

First of all, I want to encourage you to value yourself and to believe in yourself. Self esteem is the way out of tough situations and it is the way to a successful future.

Secondly, it is really tough to change custody in Michigan, particularly when you have been with one parent for a long, long time. The non-custodial parent has to prove that there is a change in circumstances or good cause that by clear and convincing evidence affects the well-being of the child at issue.

So that's a really tough thing for your father to do. The only way out for you is if he would file a motion to change custody. But many of those motions are not even heard (in a trial) by the court because the reasons set forth are not strong enough.

Your preference for where to live is just one -- I repeat -- just one of the best interest factors. Your preference isn't controlling.

So the best way out for you is to enlist the help of some people. I suggest: a school counselor, a minister, a neighbor, a friend's mother. Tell them about how you are treated and the abusive language that is psychologically damaging.

Another way out: Can your dad agree to "buy your way out?" Many times, it's only about the child support and not about it being "better" for you to be there.

Good luck to you. Reach out to some folks who can help you. Jeanne M. Hannah


hey. Im 15 and live with my mom. My parents were divorced when i was so young i dont remember. My dad is the closest thing i have to me. and he lives out of the state. my sisters left when i was 13 to live with my dad. Ive been mentally abused and told things that shouldnt be told to a daughter. My step dad is mean and pretty scarey and calls me names he shouldnt as for example inconsiderate bitch. sorry for my language. and ive had a rough child hood and have lots of reasons why i should not be here. When im at my Real fathers im happy and my smile can never wipe off my face. yes somtimes he gets mad at me haha but only for a few mins. hes strength is what makes me stronger. and sometimes when i live here with my mom with all this fighting i wanna rip my hair out. i dont understand, if im happy with my dad and my family thier and here with my mom i am not happy well whats the point if your not gunna be happy. lifes only so long and living here i dont have a teen life like the wrest of them. I havent been to the dentist since i was 4 and im 15 know. and my mom wouldnt get me glasses so my dad did. Ive wished my whole life since i was a lil girl to live with my dad. And i hope i can have help. P.s. thank you verry much :) with whatever you can do to help.

Jeanne M. Hannah

Luke, I sure wish I had a magic wand . . . and I wish I could tell you what you want to hear. Many young people are in your situation and they all ask me this questions. It is a common idea that once you reach 14 that you can refuse to go for parenting time. Unfortunately, that's not true.

The legal age at which a young person can refuse to go to the other parent's house for parenting time is 18--even if you're not graduated from high school and your father has to continue to pay child support.

If things get really bad for you, I hope you will talk to a school counselor and share what happens at your dad's house. Take care of yourself.



My name is Luke. My parents were officially divorced about a year ago, and my dad got divorced from another woman just a few days ago. However, I digress.

I turned 13 on the 6th of May, and I truly hate my father. He has been immensely mentally abusive throughout my whole life, and it really has me over the edge. It still goes on, despite me not living with him. He constantly says that he has visitation until I am 18, but I was told that it is 14 years of age that I have a choice not to visit, just because I don't want to. We do not have the money to go through Friend of the Court or anything like that, so I was wondering: What is the legal age that a minor does not have to visit with the parent that doesn't have full custody? Oddly worded, but I hope you understand what I mean.

My dad has visitation every other weekend, and some holidays, such as Memorial Day, which is one reason why there is so much drama now. I am not going to elaborate, but I would like to know how old I have to be to opt out of visitation. Thanks.

Jeanne M Hannah

Michigan law does not favor custody or parenting time rights with third parties (meaning anyone other than the legal mother or father). In addition, children are not allowed to choose which parent (or other person) the child will live with.

That said, if your brother is truly abused, then the best way he can help himself is to tell a minister, a teacher, a counselor, a school counselor, a police officer -- someone who is a mandated reporter. He needs to describe child abuse or neglect sufficient to get the probate court involved in a petition. Then relative placement is preferred. Read more about what is child abuse and neglect here and find contact information for your county.


Hi I live in Michigan and my younger brother is not happy living with his dad or my mother. His dad was abusive when we were younger and continues to be verbally and physically abusive towards my younger brother. His dad has "main" custody of him. My younger brother is 15 and wants to live with my husband and I. How would I go about getting custody of him? Can I by law get custody of him?

Jeanne M Hannah

Dear Tanisha,

In Michigan children (i.e., those under the age of 18) don't have a right to choose which parent to live with. I hate to say it, but parents have a lot more rights than kids. A lot of people have a mistaken idea that there is a "magical age" at which children get to choose -- like 12 or 14. But that is not true.

What is true is this: If your parents had fought about what was going to happen, then you might have had an opportunity to talk to a judge or referee "in chambers" (which means behind closed doors) and say what you wanted. If your parents had fought about what was going to happen, then a judge or referee might have taken your wishes into consideration. Sometimes parents don't fight because they cannot afford it. But many times parents don't fight because they do not want to put the kids in the middle. Either way, give your parents some credit for continuing to engage in counseling in an effort to make it better for you and your siblings.

But a court custody case did not happen. You did not get a chance to talk to a judge. So! Let's start with this idea. It is what it is . . . unless one of your parents (your dad) is willing to accept your choice.

What that means is this: The court has made an order. Your parents are going along with it. They each have a counselor! That is so cool! I wish more kids would have such great parents that both parents are trying to make things better for themselves and the kids.

So. Now what? Truly, the court does not care if the parents do not follow the court's order. There are 6 kids in your family. The amount of difference in child support if you spent less time with your dad would not amount to "a tinker's damn." [Please excuse my French . . . just trying to make a point here, archaic as the language is.] And if your parents would agree to deviate from the court's order, then the court would not care at all. It might be better, though, if they at least had a written agreement, signed by both of them, so that each would feel that he/she was protected against any future claim the other might file in court to enforce the order as it is written.

If the counselors involved here could find the opportunity to advocate for you and to talk to your parents and tell them that you have good reasons for choosing not to have the same parenting time plan as the rest of your siblings that would be a good idea. Good reasons are those such as: the alternate weekend parenting time interferes with your participation on the debate team, on the basketball team, etc. If your Mom would agree not to ask for a change in child support if your dad would just cut you some slack that might also help, although this is not always about money.

That is what it might take. Is there a counselor among those involved who could help you with this?

I wish you well. Advocate for yourself. Be strong. You have demonstrated a lot of strength in this reaching out for help. You can do this! Jeanne
P.S. Let me know what happens. I care about that.


Dear Jeanne, I'm 14 years old, I live with my mom most of the time but every other weekend I am with my father. My parents got divorced 3 years ago. I was not aware that my mom and dad were going to court, and I was not allowed to go. I would've liked the choice of going with my mom or dad, What is the age you have to be in Michigan to choose parents? My mom and dad both have counselors and they seem to be very involved in everything and one of them said that if I wanted more time with my dad then I should tell her, I live with 5 younger brother and siblings, I would like the choice to tell the judge what parent I would like to choose to live with, I would like to only live with my mom, is that possible for me to be allowed to choose but my brothers and sisters still have to go with what the court originally said, It was decided I would spend half of christmas break with my dad, so I think that if I spoke to one of my counselors then they would tell someone I didnt want to go with my dad, is that correct?

Jeanne M Hannah


You should read the posts on Post-judgment modification. They will explain just how difficult it is to change custody of a child after the judgment has been entered. You can read those here.


Jim Kohus

Good Morning Jeanne, I have a daughter that is 12 and lives with her mom in Michigan. I live in Ohio. I divorced my daughters mom when my daughter was 4 and she's had her in her house every since. My daughter is finally getting to the age where she doesn't like the mental abuse her mom is giving her. She feels like she can never do right by her and is pressuring me to move down here. I keep trying to reassure her that things will be ok but I know how her mom can be and I fell totally helpless when it comes to my daughter. I know that I would do anything to have her here but I believe that my circumstances here are not favorable in the courts eyes. I am recently going thru another divorce and lost my job with the down turn of the economy. I am trying to open my own company. My daughters mom has a great job and is remarried and has 2 new daughters with him. So I know that will play against me. Times are not that great down here for me but I love my daughter with all my heart and will continue to do whats best for her and teach her right from wrong. I want to show her what unconditional love is and help her in her time of need. I know that I can give her much more of a life menatally and emotionally, just not financially, at this time. Wich really stinks if thats what the courts go by. I just dont know what I can do. Can you help me with the legal aspects of all this and let me know if there is anything I can do? Thanks for your time.

Jeanne M Hannah

Frank, there are some States that permit a child at age 14 to choose which parent he/she will live with. I believe that North Carolina is one of them. Michigan does not allow the child to choose. I believe that Michigan's policy is similar to that of most States. You should consult with a lawyer in the State where you reside.


I have a daughter that is turning the age of 14 in June and she wants to come live with me. Is she old enough to make that decision? And if so how do I go about having her come live with me?

Jeanne M Hannah


You might be able to file in family court for emancipation. If you don't quite meet the criteria for emancipation, (you have to be self-supporting and you have to have a place to live), by reading the laws about emancipation, you'll be able to make some changes in your life that help you meet the criteria.

To begin a proceeding for emancipation, you (the petitioner) must be at least 16 years of age. Complete the Petition for Emancipation, form PC 100, and file it with the circuit court in the county where you live. To rescind (cancel) an order of emancipation, either the minor or a parent of the emancipated minor can complete and file the Petition to Rescind Order of Emancipation, form PC 102. The cost of filing either petition is $150.00.

There is a self-help section on the Michigan Court of Appeals' web site. To learn more about emancipation and to find the forms, go to this URL:

Good luck, Tiffany.

Jeanne Hannah


Hello, my name is Tiffany. I am a student at wayne memorial high school. i have lived in many places over the years with my mother father and my grandmother n grandfather, none of which were at the same time unless there was some sort of "who gets me what days" agreement. then, my mother left me at the age of 9. i lived with my grandparents until i was 15. at that point we began fighting and arguing left and right. they made me move in with my dad. ive began taking schooling alot more serious but ive been stressed out lately because of my dad and how much stress he is putting on me (this may be because he has been taking these pills that in crease the testostrome in the body. I spoke to my boyfriend and his family told him they feel horible for me and will take me in as their own in a heartbeat. now the question is: i am 16. going to be 17 in october. ive talked to many people and theyve all said the same thing, i want to leave here the day i turn 17. they say that i can, if my parent does call the police to report me missing or a runaway, the cops cannot do anything. i am concidered at that point an adult. and if the parents want to go through the legal process its a lengthy process and i will be 18 when finished so not to even bother. could you possibly tell me if this is true??? In all do respect, thank you.

please help me,

Jeanne Hannah


Thank you for contacting me. I am so sorry to learn of your mother's death, but your concern for your brother touches my heart. Obviously, he already has a guardian -- perhaps your mother named her sister as his guardian.

Your brother is old enough to petition the probate court in the county where he lives for appointment of a guardian he chooses. It is usually best if a school counselor or a minister helps a young person like your brother get started.

You don't mention where you live, but I ask that you write me at my email address and remind me of your question. Tell me in what county your brother is living. I am presently on at a family law conference outside the US. I will be able to provide you with more help next Monday.

I will try to find the best person to help your brother and you. Jeanne M. Hannah


So you better understand my situation this is my story. My mother just recently passed away in November, my dad well he's an alcoholic so he's out of the picture. I moved out of my legal guardian's home;which is my mother's sister; on my 17th birthday. I now have a new legal guardian and my younger brother whom is 15,still lives with my aunt. We have two older brothers, one of which is just like my father and the other has just recently joined the army. My question to you is: how would i go about getting custody of my younger brother, because he is unhappy where he is and my aunt is stealing the social security money that my brother is entitled to. She buys herself a brand new bed when my brother is sleeping on an air matress, there is no food in their house and she emotionally/mentally abuses my brother. Is there anything that i can do to help him get out of her house?

Jeanne M Hannah

Dear Whitney:

Michigan requires teenagers to be 17 to file a petition to emancipate. Your mother is undoubtedly wanting to keep you safe.

If you file a petition to emancipate, you have to prove that you have a place to live and that you can support yourself. If one of your parents objects, the court will not grant your petition.

I urge you to consider staying in school and graduating so that you can better support yourself.

Jeanne M. Hannah

Jeanne M Hannah


Every State is different. In Michigan, a child has no right to choose which parent he or she wants to live with. There are some States that allow children to choose. I do not know if Kansas is one of those States. Why don't you ask your school guidance counselor if he or she can help you get the answer from a local attorney?


I would like to choose which parent to live with. I live in Kansas. Is there an age I can choose? I would like to live with just my dad.


im 17 years old and i live in michigan, i was told by many teachers and police officers that 17 is the legal age here in michigan, i would like to move into an apartment with 2 other friends. my mother had told me awhile ago that i couldnt move out and if i did i coudnt take anything but my clothes with me. we get along fine i just think it would be a great oppotunity to try things on my own.. any advice?

Jeanne M Hannah

Hello Heather,

I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. I've been awfully busy.

You are to be commended for the efforts you are making to take care of your sisters. Your mother would be very proud of you.

The easiest thing that would work to help your sister is if your aunt would just pass along custody to you. She must be your sister's legal guardian, and she could give you parental authority that would enable you to enroll your sister in school, take care of her medical needs, etc.

It would be difficult for you to get legal custody of your sister, though, if your aunt refused this. Your sister cannot legally decide where she is going to live until she is 18.

If your aunt is seriously abusing your sister, she should tell her school counselors and/or minister. It's these people's job to report child abuse. If a court could find the child abuse serious enough, the court would likely place your sister with you.

I hope this answer is helpful to you. Best of luck in reuniting your sisters. Jeanne

Heather Rodriguez

Just a question. I have a younger sister who currently lives with my aunt in Michigan, she has custody of my sister who is going to be 16 in February of 2008. Just so you can fully understand the situation.

Since childhood I have raised my younger siblings(I was there mother basically), we lived in Mexico where our mother took us(originally from Arkansas). In 2001 when we all came back to the United States, our biological mothers rights were terminated in the court system(AR). At the time I was financially unstable to take on the role of custody, and my younger sisters were giving to my aunt and a half sister. But only to keep them within the "family" and not into foster care.

Fast forward to 2007. I'm now 25, live in Dallas, financially stable, and currently have custody over one of my sisters(now 17), now my other younger sister (now 15, almost 16) would like to also ramain together with us. I do now that my aunt is extremley difficult to deal with. However my concern is this, my aunt is getting older and has many health problems, and makes comments how she can no longer care for my sister, but will not pass custody over. My aunt at times, physical abuses my younger sister, mainly when my aunt is stressed. The well being of my younger sister concerns me and feel that it would be more beneficial to her and my other younger sister to remain together as a family should be. And I would like some answers on what I can do exaclty???

I want custody of my younger sister. But, my aunt is unwilling to simply hand over custody. I would like to know if the "legal" age would apply to this situation and that I child can decide where he or she would like to live. This is very different from a divorce of course. But any answer would be appreciated.

Thank you.


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