When parents are divorcing, one of the most emotional and potentially contentious parts of reaching a divorce settlement is determining with which party a child will live, as well as what the visitation rights of the other party will be. While there are a number of factors the affect a child custody determination, parents are often curious as to whether or not their child’s opinion will matter. Here’s a look into what you need to know about a court’s consideration of a child’s preferences in a child custody case:
When a Court Considers a Child’s Preferences
One of the factors that a court considers when making a determination about child custody is the child’s preference, assuming that the child is of a reasonable and mature age to articulate such a preference. Indeed, young children will not be asked by the court with which parent they would prefer to live; this question is reserved for older children. What’s more, the closer a child is to 18 years of age, the more weight that will be given to the child’s wishes. In addition to just considering the wishes of the child, however, the court will also analyze the reason for those wishes.
Other Factors Matter, Too
Even if a child is close to legal adulthood and expresses a clear preference for living with one parent over the other, this does not mean that the court will grant the decision. Indeed, numerous other factors will be considered as well, including the mental health of all parties involved, the stability of each parent’s home and environment, where the children’s siblings and other relatives live, the financial situation of each parent, and more.
Child Custody Cases Can Be Taxing on a Child
For children, even those who are older, being asked with which parent they want to live can be a very emotionally taxing thing, and it is not uncommon for children of divorce to suffer psychologically afterwards. As a parent, treading lightly around this issue is important, and you should never put pressure on your child to “choose” which parent they love or care for more. As a parent, your job is to be an advocate for a positive relationship between your child and the child’s other parent; this is something that is best for everyone. If a child’s opinion regarding custody is asked, it should be done in a delicate manner, and should never be interpreted by one parent as being loved more/less.
Our Attorneys Are Here to Help
If you are pursuing custody of your child, our New York child custody lawyers at the Bombardo Law Office, P.C. are here to help you. Schedule a consultation with our law offices by sending us a message, or calling us directly.