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How is “Best Interest of the Child” determined in New York?

If you’re in the process of a divorce or split, you’ve likely heard the phrase “best interest of the child”, but what does that mean exactly and how does it relate to your custody case? A child custody decision can be one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce. If a court is called upon to make a decision regarding custody or visitation rights for one or both parents, there are factors a court will look at to ensure the right decision is made.

There is no “one” definition to determine what the best interest may be, as each case has its own set of factors and circumstances. One parent isn’t always favored over another, but instead, a court will look at how the decision will benefit the child or children the most.

Factors considered to determine what is in a child’s best interest

To reach a decision for custody and visitation, a judge will consider the following factors:

  • Which parent has been the primary caretaker.
  • The parenting skills of each parent and their ability to provide future care.
  • The mental and physical health of each parent.
  • History of abuse and the potential for continued risk.
  • The availability of each parent, particularly regarding work schedules.
  • Relationships of the child with other household members, such as siblings.
  • The willingness of the parents to work with each other.

 

The general health, safety and well-being of a child are a court’s primary concern in a custody case, so a judge will do everything possible to ensure the best possible outcome and that a child’s best interests are put first and foremost.

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