Raising a child in New York is never easy. That is why it is important, in many situations, that both parents take an active role in raising the child and providing for the child. This is easier when the couple is together and are both there most days. It can be more difficult when the parents are no longer in a relationship and no longer live together.
So, to help ensure that both parents are involved in the child's life, child custody orders will govern who will make the decisions for the child and when the child will be with each parent. The parents can reach an agreement to resolve these issues. However, if they cannot reach an agreement, a judge will make the decision for them based on what is in the best interests of the child after a hearing.
At the hearing, witnesses will provide testimony under oath. These witnesses generally include the parents and other individuals who have first-hand knowledge of the capabilities of each parent. Witnesses can also include individuals who work with the child and who may be able to provide insight into what is best for the child.
In addition to witnesses, the judge may also review reports written by social workers or psychologists who were appointed by a judge to investigate what is in the best interests of the child. These reports oftentimes include interviews with the parents as well as observations from visits to the homes. A guardian ad litem may also be present as the voice for the child and provide information as to what is best for that child. After reviewing the testimony and reports the judge will make the decision and issue the order the parents must follow.
Child custody hearings in New York can be complicated matters and the parents can be very nervous or confused about the proceedings. Ultimately, the decision made by the judge has a great effect on the both the child and the parents' lives. It is important to understand how these decisions are made and what factors are used to make them.
Source: NYCourts.gov, "The custody/visitation hearing" accessed on July 5, 2016