Are the Preferences of Children Relevant to the New York Family Courts?
In serving our many clients in the Family Courts located in Westchester
County (including White Plains, NY, Yonkers, NY and New Rochelle, NY),
Putnam County, Dutchess County, Orange County, Rockland County and the
Bronx, NY, one of the initial questions that we are asked is, "will
family court judges listen to the wishes of a child in determining which
parent will be awarded
The shortest answer to that question is "yes", however, it is
not the only factor, that a Family Court will consider in making its decision.
As with most child custody cases, the family court judge's primary
concern is the "best interests" of the child and it is in this
context that the courts will determine what weight it will give various
factors in making custody decisions.
Since the New York Family Courts will consider the preferences of the child
as one factor, the next issue that must be addressed is how much weight
or credence that the court will give to that preference? In weighing the
desires of the child, a judge in the Westchester Family Court, for example,
would consider the age and maturity of the child, as well as potential
influence that may have been exerted over the child. While there is no
delineated age where courts will or will not listen to the wishes of a
child, generally the preferences of a child under six years of age will
not be considered absent some exceptional circumstances. However, there
have been many instances where children as old as 10 or 13 years of age
have not had their preferences heard due to issues of maturity and influence.
After many years of practice, our
family law child custody attorneys know that the Family Courts of Westchester County (including White Plains,
NY, Yonkers, NY and New Rochelle, NY), Putnam County, Dutchess County,
Orange County, Rockland County and the Bronx, NY will always closely scrutinze
the preferences of a child in all child custody cases irrespective of
the child's age. In such cases, it is important how the child's
preferences are presented to the Court, as their preferences can help
to shed light on what may or may not be in their best interests.
Get Skilled Representation in Your Child Custody and Visitation Case
If you are involved in a
child custody dispute, whether in family court or in a
divorce case, it is important that you protect your rights as a parent as soon
as possible. Not having representation early in your case may result in
the Court issuing temporary orders that could prevent or restrict your
ability to spend time with your son or daughter. Contact the family law
Riebling, Proto & Sachs, LLP immediately to schedule a free consultation. With flexible hours and appointments,
we can accommodate any schedule.
Call us today at (914) 946-4808.
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