Of all the decisions that couples have to make during divorce proceedings, child custody arrangements can be the most challenging to settle. There are many factors that affect child custody arrangements. The wishes and needs of the children themselves are also important factors, and parents have to take these additional views into account. All these issues together can make determining a child custody arrangement among the most complicated hurdles to overcome.
Factors that Affect Child Custody | Parental Preferences
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.
Factors that Affect Child Custody | 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.
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.
Legal and physical child custody are both highly complicated matters under New York law, and because no two families are alike, no two child custody arrangements will be the same. If you find that your spouse is showing reluctance or stubbornness during your divorce case, you should contact an experienced Jamestown child custody lawyer for additional assistance.
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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.