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How a judge decides what is 'in the best interest of the child'

Any responsible parent that has discussed the prospective dissolution of their relationship with their partner or spouse has probably mentioned the idea of making custody and visitation arrangements that are in the best interest of their child. While the idea of what is in the "best interest" of one's child may be something one would hope most parents would take time to take into consideration, few do.

Each day across New York, family court judges are involved in making decisions about a child's future. They are entrusted with making a determination as to who will take the best care of the child including ensuring their health and safety more than anything else.

In making these child custody determinations, judges are additionally forced to take into consideration any number of factors that they believe will help them better decide who to award custody or parental rights to. One of the first things the judge will look at before anything else is who has the child been primarily cared for in the recent past.

Despite the fact that a child may have been taken care of more so by one parent or another, a judge will also take into account what the strengths and weaknesses of each individual parent are. This includes taking into account their mental and physical wellbeing, their respective work schedules and financial situation and their own family histories (especially as it relates to being exposed to domestic violence or abuse).

The judge will also look to determine how likely one parent is to both cooperate with and encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent as well. Taking into account the child's relationship with family members on one side or the other to include siblings and others members of the family is of particularly importance as well.

Kids determined to be of sound mind enough to express their own thoughts may also be asked what their custody preferences are as well.

If you are seeking to gain primary custody of your child and you are wondering what your potential is based on your unique situation, speaking with a New York child custody attorney may be a good starting point. He will discuss with you the particulars of your case and how to strengthen your case to prove you are the parent who can protect what is in the best interest of the child.

Source: New York State Unified Court system, "Best interest of the child," accessed Dec. 28, 2016

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