The Child's Best Interests in Custody Cases
The standard applied in all custody disputes is what is in the “best interests of the child.”
The applicable law is DRL Sec. 240 (1)(a):
“In any action or proceeding brought (1) to annul a marriage or to declare the nullity of a void marriage, or (2) for a separation, or (3) for a divorce, or (4) to obtain, by a writ of habeas corpus or by petition and order to show cause, the custody of or right to visitation with any child of a marriage, the court shall require verification of the status of any child of the marriage with respect to such child’s custody and support, including any prior orders, and shall enter orders for custody and support as, in the court’s discretion, justice requires, having regard to the circumstances of the case and of the respective parties and to the best interests of the child and subject to the provisions of subdivision one-c of this section….”
A determination of what's best for any particular child requires a case-by-case examination of both the needs of the child and the advantages presented by each parent. Factors Courts Consider in making custody decisions based on the best interests of a child, courts look to various factors.
Factors for Parents
The factors courts look at when it comes to the parents include:
These factors are not exclusive. A court may also look at where each parent lives, the local school system or a parent's other relationships. These factors are not all given the same weight in each case. The court looks at these factors individually and together in reaching a decision.
A parent seeking custody can't just look at all the factors, put a check mark in each column where it weighs more in favor of one than the other and then total up the scores. Judges give different weight to each factor in each case, depending on the circumstances of the family and the needs of the child.
Non-Factors in the Decision
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