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How are child custody decisions in New York made?

Husbands and wives who love their daughters and sons often get divorced, necessitating decisions about who will raise the children in their homes. Often, the answer to that is both parents, at different times. It can be ideal when the divorcing husbands and wives can put together a parenting plan that works for both of them, and of course, for their children. If they cannot do so, the courts will make the child custody decisions for them. Here are some key answers about how New York courts make child custody decisions.

Do family court judges have a lot of discretion?

Yes. In New York, family court judges have been granted a lot of discretion with regard to the decisions that they make about child custody in the hopes that they will decide in the best interests of the children.

Is there a presumption in favor of joint custody?

Family courts are not under any obligation to presume that joint custody is the best arrangement. They can, however, order joint custody if they feel that is best in a particular case.

Are the children’s wishes considered?

The court may consider the wishes of the children if they feel that the children are mature enough to express their wishes and have good judgment. The children’s ages may also be taken into account.

Can a guardian ad litem or an attorney be appointed on behalf of the children?

New York has specific statutory authority to appoint a guardian ad litem or an attorney to represent the children during family court custody case proceedings. That person is tasked with advocating for the best interests of the children based on their investigation of the family situation.