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When Can a Child Choose a Custodial Parent in NY?

When Can a Child Choose a Custodial Parent in NY?

It is common for child custody determinations to be one of the most difficult and contentious parts of a divorce. Often, parents wonder if it is possible for a child to choose a custodial parent. At a certain age, the court will determine the child’s interests when it comes time to determine child custody. However, this is just one factor among many others that the court will take into consideration. Today, we go over when a child can pick a custodial parent.

New York Laws and the Custodial Parent

According to New York family law, the child’s best interests is the most important factor when it comes time to determine custody. There are specific factors that constitute the best interests of the child standard, one of which is the child’s preferences. These can also include but are not limited to the following:

  • Each parent’s mental and physical health
  • Any instances or history of domestic violence
  • How long the child has resided with each parent
  • Whether the child has special needs
  • Each parent’s parenting skills
  • Which parent can provide better for the child (includes food, shelter, education, and more)
  • Home environment of each parent
  • Each parent’s relationship with the child
  • If there are any siblings
  • Parent’s work schedules
  • Which parent will foster a good relationship with the child and the other parent
  • If either parent has a history of substance or alcohol abuse

There is no set age in New York where a child’s preferences are considered. However, the court will consider which parent the child would like to name as their custodial parent. The older the child, the more seriously the court will take his/her wishes.

The Court Must Consider the Totality of the Circumstances

While the court will consider the child’s preferences, it must also consider all the factors above before deciding custody. As such, one factor will not outweigh the other. Additionally, if the court finds it against the child’s best interests to consider the child’s preferences, the child may not be able to choose their custodial parent. An example of this would be a child who decides they would like to live with their father, but their dad has a long history of alcoholism.

Does a Child Need to Testify in Court About Their Custodial Preferences?

The court may interview the child to learn more about why he/she would prefer to live with one parent over the other. Courts do not generally have a child testify in court as doing so could cause anxiety and stress. A courtroom is not the best place for a child and could have a negative effect on his/her wellbeing and mental health.

Reach Out to a Lawyer on Our Team to Secure an Initial Consultation

Whether you are going through a child custody battle or need assistance creating a child custody agreement, do not hesitate to reach out to our office. Our Long Island divorce firm has over 90 years of combined legal experience offering top-quality counsel to families navigating divorce and child custody matters.

Schedule a consultation online or call our office at (516) 688-0088 today.
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