LEGAL CORNER: At what age can a child choose which parent to live with?

LEGAL CORNER: At what age can a child choose which parent to live with?
(Source: KPLC)

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QUESTION: I recently had a horrific experience at a local I.C.U. here in Lake Charles. My father was admitted for several days until passing away. Every life-saving measure possible was not taken because of (1) his wife's reluctance to approve such treatment, and (2) certain detailed aspects of his living will. Other members of my family and I feel he still would be here if all possible treatment was given in a timely manner, but that was not the case. No treatment was given, he was taken off life support to slowly struggle and gasp for his last breath. Is there any legal action my brothers and I can take?

ANSWER: It depends on the language of the living will. In a standard living will, it requires two or more doctors agreeing that further treatment would only artificially prolong the dying process, and treatment can be refused. If that was the case here, then there is probably little that can be done legally. However, if the language of the will was not followed, or the hospital did not follow the protocol, you may want to confer with a medical malpractice attorney about filing a claim.

QUESTION: Can law enforcement hide or shield their presence in an effort to catch persons speeding? For example, park in a private parking lot behind large bushes in which they cannot be reasonably be seen until a driver is less than 50 yards.

ANSWER: Law enforcement officers are not required to announce their presence before choosing an area to catch violators of speeding laws.

Some consider an officer not being visible as "entrapment." It is not. Entrapment is defined as "the action of luring an individual into committing a crime in order to prosecute the person for it."

In order to qualify as entrapment, the officer would have to try and coax a person to speed, arrest them for it. This scenario did not mention any enticement but simply mentioned that the officer was concealed... which is perfectly legal.

QUESTION: What age can a child pick which parent they want to live with?

ANSWER: There is no magical age that the courts automatically begin to consider the child's preferences when awarding custody. However, just around the age of twelve is when the judges do begin to factor in the child's input and concerns as to a custody arrangement.

Of course, sometimes the child's reasoning for preferring one parent's domicile may not be recognized as grounds for a change in the arrangement – for example, if a child prefers not to go to one parent's place because he or she "makes me do all my homework" or "has too many rules." Additionally, some children will tell a parent they do not want to go to the other parents because it pleases that parent to hear that.

But if there is a "material change of circumstances" in the child's life, such as new school, new town, or something has changed in one of the parents' situations, then the child's preferences become even more relevant to the court.

Disclaimer: The information furnished in this answer is general and may not apply to some situations. All legal situations are unique. No one should rely to their detriment on these answers. Anyone with a potential legal problem should seek the advice of a licensed attorney before taking any action or inaction. The answers provided are not intended to be specific legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created between the SWLA Law Center and the viewers of KPLC-TV.

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