In New York State, a child custody decision will always be centered on protecting the best interests of the children. When the courts make their decision, there is no bias toward mother or father, but there are several factors that will be closely evaluated in order to make the right choice. It’s important to have a good understanding of the following three things that affect child custody in New York.
Three Things That Affect Child Custody in New York
1) Ability to Provide for Your Child
The desires of each parent are significant, but by far the most essential element of any child custody arrangement is the “best interest of the child.” New York state law prioritizes a number of discrete factors when making decisions in child custody battles, but the unifying theme among these factors is the need for the child to live in a safe, supportive, and stable environment. If one parent cannot consistently meet these basic criteria, it will be harder for the parent to persuade the court to award custody.
2) Child’s Preferences
The child’s wishes often factors into custody arrangements, but this can be a double-edged sword. Though it is important to respect children’s wishes, children may prefer to live with the parent who has fewer rules, who disciplines them less, and who allow excessive independence. Because a judge cannot order a parent to raise a child in a specific manner, adhering largely to the children’s preferences under these circumstances would not be acting in the children’s best interests. It is for this reason that judges and mediators consider not only the children’s preferences but also the rationale behind those preferences. If a judge feels that a child’s wishes are not in line with her or his best interests, the judge can consider an alternative custody arrangement.
3) A History of Drug Use or Domestic Violence
Accusations of domestic violence and proven records of abuse are serious matters, and the state of New York treats them accordingly. For domestic abuse to factor into child custody arrangements, it must be shown to the court under oath that the violence did in fact occur or that the violence is more likely than not to have occurred. A parent who has engaged in domestic violence against her or his spouse or a child may still be awarded custody, but only if the judge sees that the abuse was extremely limited and that the child would still benefit from living with that parent. If the abuse has occurred on multiple occasions, the responsible parent may receive supervised visitation at best.
Contact Our Office for Legal Advice on Difficult Divorce Decisions
Divorce is complicated. If you are having trouble coming to a mutual agreement with your spouse during a divorce case, you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Dedicated Jamestown child custody lawyer Scott F. Humble has over 30 years of experience helping clients defend their rights during child custody battles, and we would be glad to advocate on your behalf.