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How does New York decide what is in a child’s best interests?

When you and your child’s other parent part ways in New York and do not agree on custody or visitation terms, you may need to have the state’s family court system step in and help. When making determinations about who should care for your child and when the state tries to make decisions it believes serve your child’s “best interests.”

Per the New York State Unified Court System, state courts do not automatically favor the mother or father in a custody or visitation case. Instead, they consider a multitude of factors when deciding what type of arrangement is in your best interests. Some of these factors are as follows.

Each parent’s efforts, to date

How much time you and your ex already devote to your child is often central in a custody case. If one parent did the majority of the parenting while the other parent did very little, custody or visitation decisions might reflect this.

The child’s own preferences

A judge may also listen to your son or daughter’s custody or visitation preferences if the judge believes he or she is old enough and mature enough to have an educated opinion on the matter.

The child’s existing relationships with siblings

Courts may also consider the strength of any relationships your child currently has with any brothers or sisters when deciding on custody or visitation terms. If your child maintains strong relationships with any siblings, half-siblings or step-siblings, the court may try to make decisions that prioritize these relationships.

Every custody and visitation case is different. While these are some of the variables that may fall under a microscope in a visitation or custody case, this is not a complete list of all areas that may undergo consideration.