Most parents who are certain their children will not choose them for custody are hesitant about having them voice their opinions on who they wish to live with, especially in front of a judge. The parents fear it will cause the courts to not only allow the child to live with the preferred parent, but that they might also lose visitation time. Even worse, they wonder if their children may not want to see them at all. If it seems unfair to a parent, imagine what it is like for a kid.

Child custody, either as part of a divorce or a re-examination of an earlier custody order, is both complex and emotional. There is a lot at stake. If a child is old enough and has the maturity to state his or her opinion in a way that convinces the judge they know what impact their decisionhas, the child’s wishes can play a big role in how the custody decision is reached. Ultimately, a New York state judge can act in a way he or she sees fit, regardless of what either parent or the children might wish. Among the considerations, along with the child’s wishes, a judge will put weight into:

  • The health, both physical and emotional, of the child
  • The careers and availability of the children for each parent
  • Any addiction allegations (keep in mind, this can include the parent making the allegation – if one parent makes the allegations knowing they are not true, it can certainly work against that parent who chooses to misrepresent or downright lie about the habits of the other parent)
  • Any abuse allegations (keep in mind, this can include the parent making the allegation – if one parent makes the allegations knowing they are not true, it can certainly work against that parent who chooses to misrepresent or downright lie about the habits of the other parent)

Speaking of one parent misrepresenting the other parent, a judge will also consider how much the custodial parent encourages the child to visit and maintain a relationship with the non-custodial parent. If a parent speaks unkindly about the other parent or tends to complain to the child about his or her father or mother, it can create problems for the child who just wants to be loyal to both parents and not stuck in the middle of their battles. These problems can exist well into adulthood and continue to affect their own relationships and potentially the way they parent their children.

According to our child custody lawyers, a child’s wishes when it comes to custody and who he or she wishes to live with is important. A judge is better able to make the best choice when they feel both parents are on board, being honest and looking out for their children. If a judge sees both parents encouraging the child to speak honestly and openly, it can provide confidence that no matter who the child is with, it will be a healthy environment. Isn’t that what we all want for our children?

For more information, speak to our child custody attorneys today.