In modification agreements, do the courts go by the youngest or oldest childs age when deciding parenting plans. The age desparity is by 4 years difference being 2/6.

  • As usual, keep in mind that there is not a single global rule governing child custody. Without specifying the jurisdiction involved, you will not get an accurate answer. For example, Japan normally assigns a child permanently to one parent or the other at the time of divorce and terminates the other parent's parental rights at that time, so there is no modification agreements period.
    – ohwilleke
    Nov 6, 2017 at 15:01

2 Answers 2


Courts consider the ages of all children obviously - what else would make sense?

If the age disparity is sufficiently great, the court may order or suggest different parenting plans for the children - for example, I know a (separated) family where the older sibling moved from mother to father during puberty (though this case did not involve a court).

Ultimately, many factors play a role when finding a parenting plan, and age of the siblings is only one of them (though an important factor), so there is no general answer. In particular, the law in most countries has very few concrete rules for handling this, usually the law simply says that the decision must be "in the best interest of the child". For example, according to German law (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, §1627ff):

§ 1627 Die Eltern haben die elterliche Sorge in eigener Verantwortung und in gegenseitigem Einvernehmen zum Wohl des Kindes auszuüben. Bei Meinungsverschiedenheiten müssen sie versuchen, sich zu einigen.

§ 1628 Können sich die Eltern in einer einzelnen Angelegenheit oder in einer bestimmten Art von Angelegenheiten der elterlichen Sorge, deren Regelung für das Kind von erheblicher Bedeutung ist, nicht einigen, so kann das Familiengericht auf Antrag eines Elternteils die Entscheidung einem Elternteil übertragen. [...]

English translation (by me):

§ 1627 The parents must exercise parental care under their own responsibility and with mutual agreement in the best interest of the child. In case of disagreement they must try to find a solution.

§ 1628 If the parents cannot find an agreement for a specific issue or type of issue, whose regulation is of substantial importance for the child, then the family court can, on demand of one parent, assign responsibility to one parent. [...]

In short, the legal answer is: There is no specific rule, the court must decide each case on its merits.

  • This is not just the German rule. It would be universally true in the U.S.
    – ohwilleke
    Nov 6, 2017 at 14:59

It is always best to draft a parenting plan that caters to all children and can be used for the next 3 - 5 years without any party having problems with it.

Joint parenting is about being mature and responsible and working cooperatively with the other parent to ensure not one person is at a disadvantage. Because if parents focus on fighting each other than the kids will suffer even if the fighting is about who has the best interest of the child.

Courts will look at the youngest child to see how you guys plan to cater the needs of the youngest child since they require more attention and cooperation from parents.

Are you drafting the parenting agreement yourself or using a professional? If you are doing it yourself then follow the above general advice on the first sentence.

Be flexible, and make sure you put the Children's Best Interest Forward it will automatically make the raising children in a joint custody easier.

  • "Courts will look at the youngest child to see how you guys plan to cater the needs of the youngest child since they require more attention and cooperation from parents." This is inaccurate at best and misleading at worst.
    – ohwilleke
    Nov 10, 2017 at 9:11
  • How do you say inaccurate and do you have any recent experience in the subject matter to defend your statement. Nov 11, 2017 at 4:40
  • Yes, I practice divorce law including custody law on a regular basis, with my earliest cases twenty years ago, and have also attended more than one panel of multiple domestic relations judges discussing the issue. I also keep abreast of the case law and legal scholarship in the area. I am admitted to practice in both New York State and Colorado and have litigated custody issues in both states.
    – ohwilleke
    Nov 13, 2017 at 4:04

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