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How does the court decide which parent gets child custody?

Before a judge in New York can make a ruling about which divorcing parent gets custody of a child, the court will have to determine whether or not it has jurisdiction in the case. In order for a New York judge to rule in a child custody hearing, the child must have lived in New York for at least six months. If the child is under six months of age, a court in the state where the child was born has jurisdiction.

When a New York court makes custody and visitation decisions, the judge will make an effort to ensure that the ruling is in the best interests of the child. A judge may look at which parent is currently providing the child with his or her basic needs and which parent the child is currently living with. This information will be taken into account to ensure the child does not have an unnecessary interruption in their life.

Although the parent who is living with the child may have an advantage, a judge will make sure to consider the quality of the child's life in the current home. How the child gets along with members of the household and the behavior of the parent will also be considered. An attorney will be appointed to represent the child during this process, and the attorney might interview the child about his or her own wishes.

To achieve an advantage, a parent who is going through a child custody dispute might want to become familiar with all of the factors that a judge is likely to consider when making a decision. A family law attorney can represent the parent and help ensure that the client has all of the documentation and evidence that a judge might request.

Source: Law NY, "Child Custody and Visitation Rights in New York", November 04, 2014

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