Child Custody Factors
Here is some important information on child custody factors in New York State. The courts will examine all these variables to determine what is best for your child(ren). Contact our experienced Jamestown child custody lawyers today to schedule a free consultation.
Child Custody Factors | Preference of Parents and Children
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.
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.
Child Custody Factors | 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.
Child Custody Factors | Other Factors
Judges and divorce attorneys will work to keep children together with their siblings, if at all possible. Assuming that a parent can demonstrate the financial ability to care for multiple children, it is likely that a child will be placed in the household where her or his siblings or half-siblings already live. Educational opportunities are also important, and a judge will probably order children to stay more frequently with the parent who lives closer to schools. The ability to be physically present to care for one’s children is especially paramount, and a parent will have a harder time attaining custody if he or she must spend long amounts of time away from home. Hiring a nanny or a similar caregiver can close this gap to an extent, but a parent will still have to convince a court that the relative lack of time spent caring for children is not a barrier to custody.
If you are looking for respected attorneys well-practiced in family law, please contact our experienced Jamestown child custody lawyers today for a free consultation.