Parents who end their relationships through separation or divorce often struggle with understanding how decisions regarding the custody of their children will be made by the courts. In New York, the best interests of the children who are affected by child custody decisions guide the deliberations that produce those outcomes. This post will examine what factors are relevant to best interests’ considerations, but as with all posts on this legal blog, readers are reminded that its contents do not include legal guidance.
How do courts determine children’s best interests?
The best interests of the child standard for child custody matters is subjective. That means that what will best serve one child may not necessarily best serve another child. Courts must therefore look at the unique and subjective factors of each family and child to understand how to produce child custody determinations that serve the needs of the children.
Factors that can be considered when making child custody decisions can include, but are not limited to:
- If and how the parents are able to care for the child
- What impact the parents’ work schedules will have on their parenting
- If the parents have engaged in domestic violence
- If the parents can work together to support their kids
- What preferences the child has regard their custody if they are old enough
- Others relevant factors
Parents and their family law advocates can present their cases for their custody preferences when they meet in court to settle their child custody claims.
What kinds of custody are available in New York?
New York courts can grant parents two different forms of custody. The first kind of custody is called physical custody, and it concerns where a child will live after their parents’ relationship ends. The second form of custody is called legal custody, and it concerns whether a parent has the right to be involved in the decision-making processes of raising their child.
Physical custody and legal custody can be granted solely to one parent or may be shared by a child’s parents in a joint custody arrangement. When parents share physical custody of their children, they are subject to schedules which dictate when each parent will have time with their children in their household. If a parent is not granted physical custody of their child, they may be able to secure visitation rights to see them.
Child custody matters can be difficult on children and on their parents. Courts do their best to protect and identify the best interests of the children, but not every child custody outcome is perfect. Parents who want a voice in what happens with their children’s custody can advocate for their positions with the help of dedicated family law and divorce lawyers.