For a great number of years now, your children have the right to be represented by an independent prosecutor (lawyer) in your file (separation, divorce, custody, access rights). However, it is quite wrong to think that it is the children who decide their fate. In fact, the court still has to determine the best interests of the child and make a decision respecting that interest. (1)
The desire of the child and the opinion he formulates through his counsel is only an argument in favour of one theory or another which the court must appreciate. Some parents falsely suggest to their child that from the age of 12 years they can make this kind of decision when it is not. However, the older and more mature the child, the more his or her opinion will influence the court’s decision. Therefore, the opinion and desire of a 16-year-old child is more decisive than that of a younger child.
We must also be aware that to leave this fundamental decision in the hands of a teenager, already destabilized by events related to the breakup of his family, is likely to insecure him, to fuel the conflicts of loyalty and make him take on responsibilities that should not be his.
(1) Code civil du Québec, L.Q. (2001) art. 33 and 35.