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Do a child’s preferences matter in custody determinations?

On Behalf of | Oct 3, 2022 | Child Custody

In New York child custody cases, the judge will make all final custody decisions. As the judge makes their determinations, they may consider just about any factor that relates to the best interests of the child. New York judges may consider the following factors:

  • The ability and willingness of each parent to care for the child.
  • The age and health of each parent.
  • The income, employment, and schedule of each parent.
  • The living environment of each parent.
  • The needs of the child.
  • History of substance abuse or domestic violence.
  • Relationship between the child and each parent.
  • Relationship between child and sibling and/or other relative.

Older child’s preference may be considered by courts

The relationship between a child and each of their parents is always changing. When a child is young, they may favor one parent one day and the other parent the next for no reason at all. That is why judges generally do not consider the child’s preference to live with one parent until the child is old enough and mature enough (usually at least 13 years old).

Children may love both of their parents equally but may prefer to live with one parent over the other for a multitude of reasons. The child may feel a stronger bond with one parent, feel more comfortable in one parent’s home, or prefer one parent’s style of parenting.

However, not all reasons are valid reasons for a court to grant custody. For example, a child may want to live with their dad simply because his house is closer to the child’s favorite park. That is why a child’s preference is just one of many factors taken into consideration.

To find out more about which child custody factors will impact the court’s decision in your case, consider consulting a family law attorney in your area.