How New York Determines the “Best Interests of the Child”

When New York’s court system has to make decisions regarding child custody or visitation, the people tasked with doing so will typically consider the child’s best interests before making any determinations. There are many different aspects that the courts will consider when determining a child’s best interests, and, as you might imagine, these factors vary to some degree based on a child’s age.

Maybe your child’s other parent is looking to gain custody, or partial custody, over your son or daughter, or maybe you are a grandparent, and you would like to establish formal visitation or custody rights due to extenuating circumstances. Regardless of your reasoning for requesting a custody change, you can count on the "best interests of the child” factoring into the final decision.

“Best interests of the child” criteria

So, what types of areas will New York’s court system consider when determining the best interests of a child

If age-appropriate, the court will typically ask the child if he or she has an opinion or preference when it comes to the person with whom he or she will ultimately live. The court will also typically consider whether the person seeking custody has the emotional, physical and financial capacity to support the child in question, as well as whether this person will be able to provide a stable environment for the child. The court will likely also take into account the existing relationship between the child and the person seeking custody to make sure that not only does it, in fact, exist, but that continuing it would be good for the child’s development and well-being.

While these are some the key considerations that typically come into play when courts make child custody or visitation decisions, please note that this is not a comprehensive list of all areas the court may consider.