If you are divorcing with minor children, you will be burdened with establishing a child custody agreement. If parents can’t agree, the court will examine several factors to determine a parenting arrangement that promotes the child’s overall well-being. While the court’s decision is based on numerous factors, many parents wonder whether their child’s custody preference will be considered. Please continue reading to learn how your child’s parental preference can impact the outcome of your case and why connecting with a skilled Nassau County Child Custody Lawyer is in your best interest. 

How Do Courts Decide Custody in New York?

When parents can’t reach a custody agreement in New York, the court will decide the issue. There are two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, such as schooling, religious practices, and medical decisions. On the other hand, physical custody refers to where the child predominately lives. Judges can award sole or joint custody depending on what’s in the child’s best interests.

In New York, judges must follow the “best interest of the child” standard to ensure a child’s health, safety, and overall well-being when making custody decisions. While the law doesn’t list a specific set of factors for judges to consider, they have the discretion to evaluate all relevant factors to determine an appropriate parenting arrangement:

  • The age and number of children
  • Whether the child has any special needs
  • Each parent’s fitness
  • Each parent’s ability to care and provide for the children
  • Each parent’s standard of living
  • Each parent’s willingness to foster the child’s relationship with the other parent
  • Any history of neglect, abuse, domestic violence, or sexual abuse
  • any history of drug or alcohol addiction
  • The child’s preference (if of sufficient age)
  • Any other relevant factors

Do Courts Consider a Child’s Preference in Custody Determinations?

In New York, children can express a custody preference if they are of sufficient age to make an intelligent decision. However, that doesn’t mean a child’s parental wishes bind a judge. A child’s parental preference can be considered at any age. Still, an older teenager’s preference will be given more weight in custody decisions as they are mature enough to decide based on sound reasoning.

Nevertheless, the court recognizes that there is a risk that a parent may wrongfully influence their child to select them over the other parent. As such, children’s statements can sometimes be unreliable. The court will examine whether a parent has been coaching their child or if the child is rebelling against the other parent. Children who have immature values may choose a parent based on superficial reasons. Therefore, the court will assess the child’s rationale behind their parental preference to determine how much weight to give the child’s opinion.

If you are facing a custody battle, please don’t hesitate to contact a determined lawyer from the Law Offices of Eyal Talassazan, P.C., who can help protect your rights and interests.