Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With in New York?

Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With in New York?

If you are going through a custody battle, you may be wondering if your child will be able to have a say in what parent they get to live with. Read on and reach out to our skilled Nassau County child custody attorney today.

How old does a child have to be to weigh into child custody?

All states permit judges to evaluate the choice of a child in a custody case, as long as they see the child is adequately mature. You may have questions about when a child is considered to be mature in New York. Note that most states do not set a certain age, including New York, and instead allow judges to decide on a case-by-case basis.

How does a child’s opinion fit into custody determinations?

You will want to recognize that a judge never has to grant custody in accordance with a child’s wishes. Other factors, including each parent’s criminal history and relationship with the child, always plays a role.

Also, a judge tries to assess whether a child’s preference for one parent is a result of influence or leniency by that parent, which would give the choice less validity from the court’s perspective.

For instance, a 15-year-old may not be able to live with her mom as she hopes if proof indicates the mother lets her drive without a license. On the other hand, a 12-year-old with solid reasons for selecting a proper parent could have a powerful impact on a judge’s ruling.

How do children communicate these opinions?

In most cases, children do not speak about their choices in court because the environment can be emotional and scary.

Instead, they generally share their views in conversation with the judge, a custody evaluator, or someone appointed by the court to represent their interests (like a guardian ad litem).

Discussions with the judge usually happen in the judge’s office and are therefore understood as in-chambers or in-camera hearings. Typically, a court reporter and the child’s legal representative are present. In some instances, the parents’ attorneys are also permitted in but not the parents themselves.

In some circumstances, judges will ask the child directly who they would like to live with, while others only ask related questions like, “What do you do for fun with your dad?” In some states, both parents must consent before the child may speak with a judge. Reach out to our firm today if you have additional questions. Our Nassau County family law attorney is on your side.

Contact our experienced Nassau County firm

The Pollack Law Firm, P.C., rated Nassau County’s “BEST” divorce lawyers and proudly serving clients in Nassau and Suffolk County for more than 25 years, is always available to assist and represent parties in divorce, separation and all other matrimonial and family law matters. Contact us online or call today to schedule your complimentary case analysis: (516) 342-3575.

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