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Resolving disputes creatively

How the courts determine what is in the best interest of a child

Many people in New York go through divorces every year. Each divorce is unique depending on the circumstances of the marriage. They can also be very emotional for the spouses involved. If the couple has children, it can be even more emotional since their decisions will have a major effect on the children as well. Despite the difficulties the parents may go through, the ultimate goal of a child custody decision is what is in the best interest of the child.

In order to determine what is in the best interest of the child, the courts will look to a number of factors. These factors include, but are not limited to, which parent has been the primary caregiver for the children, the parent's ability to provide the proper care for the children, the mental and physical health of the parents, the children's relationship with siblings and other family members, the children's wishes depending on the children's ages, whether the parents can cooperate and encourage a relationship with the other parent and other similar factors.

These are just the general factors the court looks to, and not all of these factors will be relevant in every child custody dispute. Child custody determinations are highly fact specific and each family situation is different. Because of this, the courts do not presume one parent is more fit to have custody than the other. That decision will be made by what is best for the child based on the circumstances.

There are many children in New York that have parents who are either split already or in the process of it. This can be a difficult time for the children as they transition from having both parents in the home to having only one at a time. However, ultimately which parent they will be with is based on what is in their best interests. Parents struggling with custody issues should take the steps to become more informed about his or her options, helping to guide them through the process.

Source: NYcourts.gov, "Best Interest of the Child" accessed on Jan. 19, 2016

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