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What Does the Court Look at When Determining Custody?


In New York State, there are a number of different factors that will contribute to the outcome of a child custody ruling. First and foremost, however, the presiding judge will be expected to make a decision that is aligned with the best interests of the child—rather than those of the parents. So what exactly does this mean? While most people are familiar with the phrase, "best interests of the child," many are unsure of what role these interests will play in a child custody case. For this reason, the Suffolk County divorce lawyers at Rubenfeld Law Firm would like to ensure that you understand what factors will go into this decision.

Although every case is different, the court will typically look at:

  • The parent who has been the primary caretaker of the child
  • The ability of each parent to provide for the child's needs and development
  • The physical & emotional health of both parents
  • Any informal or formal custody agreements
  • Indications of alcohol or substance abuse
  • Any instances or accusations of domestic violence
  • The child's preferences (not a legally binding factor)
  • The overall financial stability of both parents
  • The stability of both parents' home environments

While some of these elements will bear more weight than others in the eyes of the court, most rulings are based on a careful consideration of several different factors. In most custody cases, the Court will appoint an attorney for the child (formerly known as a Law Guardian). This attorney will generally meet with the child and advocate the child's wishes, depending on the age of the child.

If you have further questions about this process, we encourage you to discuss the specific nature of your case with a Suffolk County divorce attorney from Rubenfeld Law Firm. Every situation is different, so we would be happy to give your case the level of personalized attention that it deserves.

All you have to do is contact our firm today at (631) 777-7200 to take advantage of a free initial consultation. If you would prefer to reach us online, you can also submit a free case evaluation form directly from our website.

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