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Factors considered when determining best interests of the child

Certain terms are frequently thrown about in a child custody case in New York and the participants might not be aware of what they specifically mean. One is the "best interests of the child." Of course, everyone involved in the case is looking out for the child's best interests, but that could be defined by a variety of factors. Knowing how the state specifically addresses the best interests of the child with parenting time, child custody and more is essential.

When the court decides on a child custody case, the best interests of the child will be a significant factor. There is not a baseline rule for what the "best interest" means, but in general it centers around what the judge in the case thinks will be most beneficial to the child and which parent or another person is best suited to provide the necessary care. New York focuses on the child's health and safety.

One parent will not receive favorable status over the other. The child's best interests take precedence over anything else. The following factors will be taken into consideration: which parent was the main caregiver of the child; what the parenting skills are, if there are strengths and weaknesses and their ability to address special needs the child might have; the physical and mental health of the parents; if there was domestic violence in the household; if there are siblings and the relationship the child has with them; the child's desires, provided he or she is mature enough to express them; and the parents' ability to be cooperative with one another when there are issues with the child.

Parents who are seeking child custody must be aware of how the state assesses the child's best interests. Visitation rights, which parent will be the custodial parent and other matters that are imperative to the relationship with children must be considered. For advice and assistance, speaking to a legal professional is a wise step.

Source: nycourts.gov, "Best Interest of the Child," accessed on April 25, 2017

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