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Last Updated on: 2nd October 2023, 06:51 pm
What Does Best Interests of the Child Mean in Child Custody Cases?
When It comes to legal matters that involve children, the court must often look beyond the divorce and dispute of the couples to resolve all pending issues. One of the most pivotal concerns is where a child will live for the foreseeable future.
The court must try to evaluate the forthcoming placement by making predictions on where and with whom the child will fare best. Children have little say in the matter when they are under the age of 10 years old, which means the court must look at all the determining factors to make a decision that is in the “best interest of the child.” The term is frequently used to resolve all child custody battles. To determine the best interests, the court will use many methods.
The Domestic Relations Law
First, they will examine any testimony as to the character of the mother and father. The New York laws regarding custody are scant, so the court must rely on the information they receive to help them to make an informed decision. While mothers were once favored as the best choice for a child, the Domestic Relations Law 70 does not give any prejudice to either parent. The decision is based solely on the party that can provide the best care both physically and financially.
Most people entering into a child custody situation are familiar with the term “best interests.” Each case is unique with circumstances and people, so the nature of these cases is often sensitive at best. The court will evaluate the circumstances, and all the factors deemed necessary to make a custody determination. Numerous factors are used to decide the New York Courts. Establishing the “best interests of the child” is almost never easy. The list that is used of criteria is vast and cannot be discussed at length, but there are a few things that the court deems as critical in deciding where the child will have the best life.
Great esteem is given to the trial court by the New York appellate as this branch of the court system can best evaluate the testimony and summarize the best interests. The case Eschbach v. Eschbach 56 N.Y.2d 167 case was important in helping to set a precedence in deciding such factors.
Numerous aspects are brought into deliberation when defining the best interests of the child. First, the court is concerned about the home where the child will reside. Next, they look at the background of both parents. Are there any criminal records or a history of child abuse and neglect? The court also cares about the child’s wishes. Older children have more of a say in the matter than those that are younger and apt to change their mind.
Often, agreements are made by prior court proceedings. While the court will use this as a deciding factor, they do not deem it absolute. The court is not bound by any agreement made by two parties but will evaluate the agreement. If the circumstances have changed from the previous contract, then the changes and how it affects the “best interests” is brought into consideration.
Evaluating the Financial Situation
The role of each parent and their relationship with the child is pivotal for determining custody. While most people tend to look at a party’s financial status, the court cares about finances but does not consider this the only factor when deciding custody. The court must be assured that the parent will provide quality guidance and can care for the child far beyond the financial aspects. Money is usually brought into the equation when one parent may not be able to provide secure housing and necessities for their child. The court does not overlook monitory means, but it applies equal concern to emotional and intellectual development needs too.
Taken into consideration are the child and their induvial needs. Though the desires of the child are considered, they are not determinative for the case. This is especially true if there is more than one child in which the court is seeking a custodial arrangement.
Dealing with The Child’s Preference and Any Sibling Connections
Parents often argue that a child wants to live with one or the other. When it comes to weighing their request, the court looks at the maturity and age of the child in question. They also determine if the child has been influenced in any way. A kid that is five years of age will receive little consideration for their request. However, an individual that is 16 years of age will have more weight given to their desires. If the best interest does not coincide with their wishes, then the court will not use their hopes for any placement matters.
Lastly, the Eschbach case distinguishes that keeping siblings together is beneficial. The court sees it a priority to keep the family together as it has been proven that both psychological and growth benefits of the unit cannot be denied. Separating brothers or sisters can not only be traumatic, but it can have harmful effects for years to come. Though this case showed the importance of the sibling units, the New York court system tries to follow this protocol, but there are some cases where it is not in the best interest of all involved. Sometimes, it is better for them to be split up. Placing different children with different parents may be the best option.
The evaluation of numerous crucial factors helps to determine the best interests of a child. It takes a great deal of both thought and consideration to come to this conclusion. Frequently, the testimony given by others involved with the parents is used in deliberation. The sincerity and the character of each person weigh heavily. The court has a significant job to come to a decision that means everything to the child.
Family law is almost always tricky because there are so many emotions involved. When handling a situation such as this, remember that the court is looking out for the child. They use every bit of information available to make an informed decision. It is not a personal choice against one parent or the other; it is merely putting the child where they feel they will flourish most.
Child Custody Laws in New York
Overview of Child Custody Statutory Law
In New York, the statutory law that regards child custody is somewhat vague. According to Domestic Relations Law 70, there will not be a prima facile right to child custody with either parents of the child. However, the court will decide what is in the best interest of the child regarding child custody. Furthermore, Domestic Relations Law 240, Family Article 6, states that the family court has the authority and jurisdiction to hear cases in relation to child custody and visitation or parenting time.
Factors Considered by the Family Court
There are some factors the family court will take into consideration when deciding what is in the best interest of the child. These factors may include the age of the parents, history of substance abuse, history of domestic violence, a criminal record, availability of parents, and physical health of the parents. In addition, finances may also play a role in determining custody. If a parent isn’t able to provide adequate housing or other necessities for the child, the other parent may be awarded residential custody of the child. The court may also ask the child which parent he or she prefers to live with, but this factor will only partially influence the court’s decision.
Child Custody in Long Island and Throughout New York
In Long Island and throughout New York, child custody refers to any child under the age of 18 years old, but unemancipated children will receive child support until they are 21 years old according to New York child custody laws. New York child custody laws are balanced throughout the state, so residents of Nassau, Queens, Suffolk, or other counties will receive the same decisions or settlements for visitation and child custody. When you are preparing for a divorce in New York, it is helpful if you have an understanding of the different options that you have based on your specific circumstances. A law firm with skilled attorneys, such as the Spodek Law Group, can provide you with guidance and make the process easier.
Types of Custody Arrangements
When couples going through a divorce have children together, they must decide where the child will reside. If a child has to live with a parent via a court order, the parent in custody of the child has residential custody according to New York law. Another factor that needs to be taken into consideration is which parent will have the authority to make decisions for the child, which is known as legal custody.
Sole or Full Custody
When a parent has sole or fully custody of a child, it typically means the child will reside with him or her. In addition, sole or full custody also means that parent has control of making educational, medical, religious, and social decisions for the child. The parent with sole or full custody has legal custody as well as residential custody of the child. In most circumstances, that parent will discuss decisions with the other parent, but the parent with sole custody has the authority to make the final decision regardless of if the other parent disagrees. Furthermore, the parent without sole custody will typically receive visitation or parenting time.
Joint Legal Custody and Shared Custody
There are many divorced couples that decide to share legal custody of their children, which is known as joint legal custody. Although the children will live with the parent whom has residential custody, both parents must decide together on the decisions of the child. In addition, some divorced parents also share residential custody, which can be called shared custody. In these circumstances, the child will live with both parents on a set schedule equally throughout the year. In these cases, usually the parents will make decisions together. When circumstances arise where parents aren’t able to come to an agreement on a custody arrangement, usually the court will make a decision that awards one parent full custody with visitation or parenting time awarded to the other parent.
Hybrid Variations of Legal Child Custody Orders
Although the above content describes the most typical custody arrangements in New York, there are instances where there can be hybrid variations of legal child custody orders. An example may include a circumstance where parents want joint legal custody of their child. This means that both of the parents are intended to make decisions for the child together. However, the custody order may state that when parents can’t come to a mutual agreement about the child, one parent will have the final authority to make the decision. This situation is suitable for some parents because it attempts to help them make decisions about the child together.
Other Hybrid Situations
Another example of a hybrid custody situation could be if one parent has full custody of the child, but he or she must speak with the noncustodial parent before making the final decision about the child. These hybrid variations of child custody may also include the noncustodial parent having the authority to speak to medical or educational professionals about their children. In addition, these arrangements may also allow the noncustodial parent to collect the child’s medical or educational records. The three major categories that influence a hybrid custody case are medical, healthcare, and social welfare issues.
Final Thoughts and Legal Assistance
There are also cases where one parent may have authority to make educational decisions, and the other parent will have authority to make medical decisions for the child. Although these custody cases can be complex and time-consuming, an attorney with experience in family law can help tailor a custody arrangement to meet the needs of the child.
Although a divorce can be a stressful process, there are numerous options that you have when it comes to child custody arrangements in New York. If you are preparing for a divorce, and you need legal guidance, contact Spodek Law Group. Our skilled team of legal experts can help you with child custody, maintenance, and any other issue that is related to family law.
Can he get custody with his history of domestic abuse?
Child Custody Considerations in Cases of Domestic Abuse Introduction Women will be especially interested to learn whether a husband with a history of domestic abuse is able to get sole or even primary custody of their children. It is absolutely true that domestic violence like this (that is an established and undisputed fact) will often prove to be decisive in the battles for custody involved in divorce proceedings. It is also the case that the husband may have slapped around his wife while not ever abusing their children. Yet this still causes the home to be an unsafe environment because of the violence in the house. In fact, statistics have demonstrated that domestic abusers of their spouses are far more likely to morph into child abusers than are non-spousal offenders. Judges are keenly aware of this statistical phenomenon, and they will consider it when deciding on the primary custody arrangements for the children of the divorce. Standards for Deciding Child Custody It is up to every individual state in the U.S. to decide on its own that determine these kinds of family and divorce issues. Parenting time (or visitation) and child custody are no exceptions to the rule. Yet despite this jurisdictional independence, the 50 states generally employ the same standards of decision-making when it is time to award custody of the children in the divorce proceedings. The primary standard of the 50 states: centers on what is known as “the best interests of the children.” There is no simple one size fits all policy for child custody awards. Instead, the judges always consider the particular facts and factors of a given case when coming up with their ruling on awarding primary custody of the children. Several different factors: Among these are the primary consideration of which parent has shown the historical primary care giver role for the children. Besides this, they will consider the emotional, mental, and physical health of both parents and the children in question. Domestic Abuse as it Relates to Primary Child Custody It would be foolhardy to assume that because a woman’s husband has been a brute towards her that this will automatically preclude him from gaining primary custody of the children. A documented history of spousal abuse will not necessarily eliminate the father from obtaining primary custody in fact. The court will carefully consider: the evidence on who was the victim of all domestic violence that occurred in the home in question. In many cases, the only target for the domestic violence proves to be the unfortunate spouse. The children are not victims directly in these cases. The court will further consider: the level of abuse that the husband perpetuated as part of the decision-making process. There are a number of different types of domestic abuse and even various combinations of it. These might involve emotional, psychological, and physical abuse. Lastly, the courts will contemplate: the time when such spousal abuse actually happened. It may be that such history lay far back in the distant past. This would be a considerably positive development for the husband if he had put his abusive past soundly behind him. Types of Child Custody Awards The arrangement of the custodial relationship will also help determine if the husband who possesses an abusive past will be given primary custody or not. Courts are more inclined to give joint custody and primary residency rights to the woman if the judge is satisfied that the man has been abusive. In cases where sole custody is being contested by the two sides, then the domestic abuse issues are more likely to be carefully and minutely considered by the court. The Physical, Mental, and Psychological Health of Each Parent Matters Significantly It may seem completely unfair that because a woman’s emotional, mental, and even physical states can have been damaged by the husband in a domestic abuse situation, this may cost her primary custody of the children. Yet if such damage has been permanent or even just lasting, then the court is likely to heavily consider it when deciding the child primary custody award. For example, the woman may have suffered from real emotional or psychological issues from the abuse in question. This could have restricted her ability to be a good parent. In such cases, there is a very real possibility that the court will decide that this mother can not function effectively as the primary custodian of the children thanks to her emotional of psychological scars and problems. The father would be the likely victor in these cases. Again, this can still be their legitimate findings even when such problems arose directly from spousal abuse by the father who may receive primary custody as a “reward” for his animal-like behavior in their marriage. No one is saying it is ideal or even fair. Yet because of her inability to effectively raise the children thanks to the emotional baggage, the court can rule in the father’s favor as he is deemed to be the healthier and more stable of the two parents.