Children and Divorce: Determining Best Interests

Cultural myths and misconceptions tend to linger long after the reality has changed. When it comes to divorce, many people still assume that the mother has a built-in advantage when it comes to both custody and support payments, and that the courts still routinely automatically assign primary custody to the wife and force the husband to pay support.

However, this is no longer the case. The New York Courts, as with most other state courts, no longer considers gender alone to be a determinative reason for assigning custody. The court is guided solely by the concept of ‘best interests of the children,’ meaning that it takes into account a holistic view of the situation and attempts to come up with a custody and support plan that will give the children the best possible home life and other advantages.

Many Factors

When it comes to children and divorce, the court considers many factors when assigning custody:

  • Finances: The courts will seek to assign custody to the parent who is best-equipped to care and provide for them.
  • Existing Roles: The court will certainly take into consideration which spouse was the primary caregiver during the marriage.
  • Wishes of the Children: While the weight of these wishes will vary depending on the age and perceived maturity of the children, the court certainly takes their expressed wishes into account.
  • Domestic Setting: The type of home that can be provided is also considered, including schools and neighborhood factors.

The court will do its best to ensure the children are given the best possible scenario, with custody, support, and visitation setup that makes sense. Gender no longer matters, although many families retain traditional roles when it comes to children, often creating the illusion that it does.