At What Age Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With in NY
Divorce or separation can be a challenging time for both parents and children, especially when it comes to deciding where the child will live. While the ultimate decision in custody matters is typically made by the court, the child’s wishes may be taken into consideration, particularly as they grow older. In the state of New York, the age at which a child can have a say in determining which parent they want to live with is not set in stone, but rather depends on several factors.
In New York, the court’s main focus in child custody cases is the best interests of the child. This includes factors such as the child’s physical and emotional well-being, the ability of each parent to provide a stable and suitable environment, and the child’s preferences. While the court is not bound by the child’s wishes, it will consider their opinion, especially as they reach a certain age where their maturity and judgment can be taken into account.
The court may consider the child’s wishes starting around the age of 12 or 13, but this does not mean that the child has the final say. The court will weigh the child’s opinion along with other relevant factors to make a decision that is in the best interests of the child. The older the child, the more weight their preferences may carry, but the court will always prioritize the child’s safety and well-being above all else.
Here are some common questions and answers regarding the age at which a child can decide which parent to live with in New York:
1. Can a child under the age of 12 have a say in custody matters?
While the court may consider the child’s preferences, it is less likely to heavily rely on them for children under the age of 12.
2. Is there a specific age at which a child’s wishes become determinative?
No, there is no specific age. The court will consider the child’s maturity, judgment, and ability to articulate their preferences.
3. Can a child choose to live with a non-parent, such as a grandparent or sibling?
Yes, the court may consider the child’s preference to live with a non-parent if it is deemed to be in their best interests.
4. Can a child’s wishes be overruled by the court?
Yes, the court has the authority to overrule a child’s wishes if it determines that it is not in the child’s best interests.
5. Will the court consider the child’s reasons for wanting to live with a particular parent?
Yes, the court will consider the child’s reasons, but it will also evaluate the overall circumstances and the best interests of the child.
6. Can a child change their preference over time?
Yes, a child’s preference may change as they grow older or as circumstances change. The court will consider the most current information available.
7. Can a child refuse to visit a parent they don’t want to live with?
While a child’s preferences may be considered, it is generally not in their best interests to refuse court-ordered visitation. The court can enforce visitation orders.
8. Can a child testify in court about their preferences?
In some cases, the court may allow a child to testify, but it is usually done in a private setting to protect the child’s privacy and well-being.
9. Can a child’s wishes be influenced by one parent?
The court will consider any allegations of parental influence, and if it is found to be present, it may affect the weight given to the child’s preferences.
10. Can a child’s opinion be submitted in writing?
Yes, the court may consider a child’s written statement expressing their preferences, but it will also consider other evidence and factors.
11. Can a child’s preferences be considered in joint custody cases?
Yes, even in joint custody cases, the court may consider the child’s preferences when making decisions about living arrangements.
12. Can a child’s preferences be considered in cases of alleged abuse or neglect?
Yes, the court will take into account any allegations of abuse or neglect when considering the child’s best interests, including their preferences.
13. Can a child’s wishes be overridden by a custody evaluation or expert opinion?
While a custody evaluation or expert opinion may carry weight, the court has the final decision-making authority and will consider all available information in determining custody arrangements.
It is important to note that every case is unique, and the court will make its decision based on the specific circumstances and the best interests of the child. The age at which a child can have a say in determining which parent to live with in New York may vary, but their wishes will be considered as long as it aligns with their well-being.