Factors Considered in New York Child Custody Determinations

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Like in other states, courts look to the “best interest of the child” standard when making determinations regarding New York child custody.  However, states define this standard differently.  In New York child custody cases, the factors that are considered by the court to determine what is actually in the best interest of the child can include:


The court will want to avoid disrupting the child’s life as much as possible.  If a parent left the home and the other parent became the primary caretaker, the court may want to maintain the status quo.  For this reason, it is important that a divorcing spouse discuss plans before moving out of the marital residence to become aware of any potential ramifications.

Primary Caretaker

Although New York courts do not explicitly consider the gender of the parent, they do consider which parent acted as the primary caretaker.

Domestic Violence

If there is proven history of domestic violence on the part of one parent against the other or against the child, the abuser is less likely to receive custody.

Preference of the Child

While the child’s preference is not determinative, it is considered by the court, especially if the child is old enough and mature enough to articulate the reasons for his or her preference.

Substance Abuse

Evidence of alcoholism or drug use can negatively impact a parent’s ability to receive custody.

These are just a few of the factors that New York courts weigh when considering the best interest of the child.  Many parents choose to negotiate their own custody plan rather than have the court go through the exhaustive list of potential factors.

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