At what age can a minor choose who they want to live with?

Full Question:

Can a child who is 16 years old live with any member of his family that he chooses? A boy wants to live with his grandparents who have raised him but his mother is trying to force him to live with her after 15 years of separation. He resides in KY and his mother is in GA.
05/28/2009   |   Category: Divorce ยป Child Custody   |   State: Kentucky   |   #16803

Answer:

A minor does not have a right to choose his residence, and is subject to the custody and control of his parent or legal custodian until emancipated. It is possible that the grandparents could petition for guardianship or termination of parental rights. Typically, the parent must be shown to be unfit to terminate parental rights. Such a decision may be made based upon, among other factors, abandonment by a parent, child abuse, unfitness of a parent, and other injuries to a child. The determining factor for the court is the child's best interests. This is a subjective determination, based on the facts and circumstances in each case. If the mother is awarded custody, grandparents' visitation may be granted if the court determines that the visitation is in the best interest of the child. Chapter 405, Section 021 (KRS §405.021).

The following is a KY statute:625.090. Grounds for termination.


(1) The Circuit Court may involuntarily terminate all
parental rights of a parent of a named child, if the Circuit
Court finds from the pleadings and by clear and convincing
evidence that:

(a)
1. The child has been adjudged to be an abused or
neglected child, as defined in KRS 600.020(1), by a court of
competent jurisdiction;

2. The child is found to be an abused or neglected child, as
defined in KRS 600.020(1), by the Circuit Court in this
proceeding; or

3. The parent has been convicted of a criminal charge
relating to the physical or sexual abuse or neglect of any
child and that physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or
emotional injury to the child named in the present
termination action is likely to occur if the parental rights
are not terminated; and

(b) Termination would be in the best interest of the child.

(2) No termination of parental rights shall be ordered
unless the Circuit Court also finds by clear and convincing
evidence the existence of one (1) or more of the following
grounds:

(a) That the parent has abandoned the child for a period of
not less than ninety (90) days;

(b) That the parent has inflicted or allowed to be inflicted
upon the child, by other than accidental means, serious
physical injury;

(c) That the parent has continuously or repeatedly inflicted
or allowed to be inflicted upon the child, by other than
accidental means, physical injury or emotional harm;

(d) That the parent has been convicted of a felony that
involved the infliction of serious physical injury to any
child;

(e) That the parent, for a period of not less than
six (6) months, has continuously or repeatedly failed or
refused to provide or has been substantially incapable of
providing essential parental care and protection for the
child and that there is no reasonable expectation of
improvement in parental care and protection, considering the
age of the child;

(f) That the parent has caused or allowed the child to be
sexually abused or exploited;

(g) That the parent, for reasons other than poverty alone,
has continuously or repeatedly failed to provide or is
incapable of providing essential food, clothing, shelter,
medical care, or education reasonably necessary and
available for the child's well-being and that there is no
reasonable expectation of significant improvement in the
parent's conduct in the immediately foreseeable future,
considering the age of the child;

(h) That:

1. The parent's parental rights to another child have been
involuntarily terminated;

2. The child named in the present termination action was
born subsequent to or during the pendency of the previous
termination; and

3. The conditions or factors which were the basis for the
previous termination finding have not been corrected;

(i) That the parent has been convicted in a criminal
proceeding of having caused or contributed to the death of
another child as a result of physical or sexual abuse or
neglect; or

(j) That the child has been in foster care under the
responsibility of the cabinet for fifteen (15) of the most
recent twenty-two (22) months preceding the filing of the
petition to terminate parental rights.

(3) In determining the best interest of the child and the
existence of a ground for termination, the Circuit Court
shall consider the following factors:

(a) Mental illness as defined by KRS 202A.011(9), or mental
retardation as defined by KRS 202B.010(9) of the parent as
certified by a qualified mental health professional, which
renders the parent consistently unable to care for the
immediate and ongoing physical or psychological needs of the
child for extended periods of time;

(b) Acts of abuse or neglect as defined in KRS 600.020(1)
toward any child in the family;

(c) If the child has been placed with the cabinet, whether
the cabinet has, prior to the filing of the petition made
reasonable efforts as defined in KRS 620.020 to reunite the
child with the parents unless one or more of the
circumstances enumerated in KRS 610.127 for not requiring
reasonable efforts have been substantiated in a written
finding by the District Court;

(d) The efforts and adjustments the parent has made in his
circumstances, conduct, or conditions to make it in the
child's best interest to return him to his home within a
reasonable period of time, considering the age of the child;

(e) The physical, emotional, and mental health of the child
and the prospects for the improvement of the child's welfare
if termination is ordered; and

(f) The payment or the failure to pay a reasonable portion
of substitute physical care and maintenance if financially
able to do so.

(4) If the child has been placed with the cabinet, the
parent may present testimony concerning the reunification
services offered by the cabinet and whether additional
services would be likely to bring about lasting parental
adjustment enabling a return of the child to the parent.

(5) If the parent proves by a preponderance of the evidence
that the child will not continue to be an abused or
neglected child as defined in KRS 600.020(1) if returned to
the parent the court in its discretion may determine not to
terminate parental rights.

(6) Upon the conclusion of proof and argument of counsel,
the Circuit Court shall enter findings of fact, conclusions
of law, and a decision as to each parent-respondent within
thirty (30) days either:

(a) Terminating the right of the parent; or

(b) Dismissing the petition and stating whether the child
shall be returned to the parent or shall remain in the
custody of the state.

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