When a married couple with children is getting divorced, one of the most difficult fights is almost inevitably about who gets custody of the children. While both parents will make their arguments, inevitably it is the judge’s decision who will receive custody of the children, and judges make their decision based on what is in “the best interest of the child.” But what does that mean, exactly?
In truth, there isn’t one specific set of criteria for what should be considered when it comes to “the best interest of the child.” Obviously, if there are allegations of abuse or neglect by one or both parents, that will be a significant factor in the judge’s decision-making process. However, there are plenty of other potential considerations, such as the parents’ ability to provide care for the children, both financially and emotionally, or the locations of each parent’s home (if they live in separate residences). A judge may determine that one parent makes for a more favorable custodian because they promote and foster a relationship between the child and the other parent, while the other parent does not.
Of course, there are also shared custody and visitation agreements to consider as well, and those are subject to the same determinations as to what is in the child’s best interest. For example, a judge may decide that the trouble of shuttling between parents’ homes is worth keeping both parents in a child’s life, or conversely that the parents live too far apart for shared custody to be practical. When it comes to visitation, they can allow relatively generous visitation terms for nights, weekends or holidays, or impose severe restrictions on when and where a parent can visit a child. In the end, it is the court’s judgment that determines what “the best interest of the child” really is.
However, if you want to fight for the best interest of your child, you need to protect your own interests first. If you are considering a divorce, seeking the guidance of an experienced New York family law attorney may be crucial to protecting the best interests of yourself and your child. Contact the family lawyers at the Marnell Law Group. They have extensive experience in custody and visitation disputes and will fight hard on your behalf. Call (516) 542-9000 for more information, or contact us to schedule a consultation.