Determining child custody can be a long and difficult process if two parents are in dispute about how their children should be cared for following a divorce or separation. In the state of New York courts do not favor mothers or fathers when it comes to awarding custody. The job of the court is simply to act in the best interest of the child. There are many different factors to consider when making this decision. An experienced attorney will be able to help you better understand what courts look for when awarding child custody in Suffolk County NY. Here are a few things that the courts usually think about when making such an important decision.
The first and most important aspect to examine in relation to child custody in Suffolk County NY is the ability of each parent to properly care for the child. In most divorces both parents are equally fit to have custody of the child, but this is not always the case. If there has been a history of substance abuse, criminal behavior, or domestic violence this may heavily influence the final custody order. The courts also consider which parent has been the main caregiver during the child’s life. They not only want to maintain meaningful contact between the child and both parents whenever possible, but also it is the goal of many judge’s not to disrupt the child’s life more than necessary. For example, if a child has spent most of his life being cared for by a stay at home mom it is possible that the courts will decide it is in the child’s best interest to continue living with his mom for the majority of the time. In addition to these factors, the courts will consider the work schedules of each parent before determining child custody.
Depending on the age of the child, the child’s wishes may be taken into account before awarding child custody in Suffolk County NY. A child will never be asked to testify in court, but the judge can order a child interview. During this interview a third party mediator will meet with the child and discuss their living arrangements with both mom and dad. After the interview is complete the mediator will file a report with the judge explaining the child’s wishes. This interview often comes with a recommendation about whether or not the child’s wishes should be adhered to.