Matrimonial and Family Law Blog

Monday, April 15, 2019

When Can a Child Choose What Parent to Live With?

It can be difficult for a child when parents divorce. Instead of living with both parents full-time, the child must split time between two homes. In some cases, a child may prefer to remain with one parent instead of the other parent. However, when does a court consider a child’s preference for living arrangements? If your child has a preference regarding custody, consulting a New York child custody attorney may be helpful.

Deciding a Child’s Best Interest

Judges in New York custody cases base custody decisions on the child’s best interest. Neither parent is given preference at the beginning of the case. Because there is no set definition of “best interest,” the needs of the child and the parties’ circumstances are used to decide custody cases.

10 Factors a judge uses to decide what is in the child’s best interest regarding custody include:

  1. Whether the mother or father has been the primary caregiver and nurturer for the child;
  2. The physical and mental health of each parent;
  3. The childcare plans of each parent and each parent’s work schedule;
  4. Each parent’s skills as a parent;
  5. A parent’s ability to provide for any special needs the child might have;
  6. Whether there is evidence of domestic violence by either parent;
  7. A child’s relationship with siblings and other members of the family;
  8. A parent’s ability to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent;
  9. Whether a parent can cooperate with the other parent regarding the child’s needs; and,
  10. Other factors the judge deems relevant.

A child’s preference may or may not be considered by a judge.  The judge is under no obligation to consider a child’s preference in a custody matter. However, there are instances in which a judge will consider a child’s preference when deciding a custody case.

When Does a Judge Consider a Child’s Preference for Custody?

A child’s safety and well-being are the guiding factors in a custody case. A judge may listen to a child’s preference, but the overriding factor will be what is in the child’s best interest.

There is not a set age that a child must attain for a judge to consider the child’s preference for custody arrangement. Maturity is a large factor in whether a judge gives weight to a child’s preference in a custody action. A parent may more easily manipulate younger children; therefore, a younger child’s preference may not be his or her true preference. Younger children may also make decisions based on factors that are contradictory to their safety and well-being. Therefore, judges typically give more weight to an older child’s preference.

Contact a New York Child Custody Attorney to Discuss Your Child’s Best Interest

If your child wants to be heard during a custody matter or you believe your child’s other parent is attempting to manipulate your child, you need a strong legal advocate on your side and your child’s side as you fight for custody of your child.  Contact Gassman Baiamonte Gruner, P.C. to speak with a New York child custody lawyer today. Our New York child custody attorneys can help you protect your child’s best interest in a custody matter.

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