Of all of the difficult aspects of any divorce in New York, the need to decide any matter of child custody generally ranks among the hardest. Court systems throughout the state tend to follow certain guidelines when making rulings on child custody.
When there is a dispute over which parent will maintain primary custody or in setting up a visitation schedule, a judge may choose to step in and resolve the matter for those involved. The primary consideration in all custody cases is the best interests of the child. Facts must be weighed and considered equally prior to any decision being made. While the question of what the best interests of any child or children are is at the discretion of the court, there are some basic questions most judges want answered.
Judges consider who the primary caretaker of the child has been as well as which parent the child seems to have had the closest bond with prior to the proceedings. Allegations of abuse or domestic violence are investigated and considered in custody rulings, as are each parent's mental and physical abilities and overall parenting skills. The work schedules of each potential primary caregiver are scrutinized also, along with the child's relationship to any siblings or extended family members on either side.
Deciding matters of child custody can be a heartbreaking process that may also become deeply complicated by emotions from both parents. Custody matters also frequently lead into questions of support payments and visitation schedules, which carry their own sets of problems as well. A consultation with a family law attorney can help shed light on the child custody process and steps a parent should take to make the best decision for the children.
Source: New York State Bar Association , "Parent education for separating or divorcing parents", Jonathan Lippman, Ann Pfau and Evelyn Frazee,, October 15, 2014