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What role will a child's choice play in a custody proceeding?

Children often love both of their parents. However, depending on the circumstances of a situation, a child may be inclined to spend more of her time with one of her parents instead of the other. The reasons for her preferences may be varied, but in New York it is possible that the child's desires will be factored into her child custody determination.

Generally, the older a child is the more weight her preferences will be given by a New York family law court. A child who is nearly eighteen may be more persuasive in advocating for her desires than a child who is only seven or eight; however, a court will not only rely on a child's preferences when evaluating how best to serve the child's interests with regard to her legal and physical custody.

With regard to a child's preferences, a court will evaluate the motivation behind the child's desires. For example, if a child only wants to be with one parent over the other because the preferred parent is the more lenient disciplinarian then the court may not give the child's inclination much credence.

Courts will also consider factors related to the health and mental stability of the parents and child when deciding how to award custody, as well as many other family-specific factors. Individuals who have specific questions about how their child custody matters may be viewed by New York courts are encouraged to discuss their matters with their family law attorneys.

A child's preferences are only a small part of the complex evaluation that a court will make when deciding how to award custody to her parents. All child custody matters ultimately turn on how the best interests of the child subject to the determination will be met and if the child's preferences support the interests the presiding court is charged with protecting.

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