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Will the Court Consider the Wishes of the Child in Family Court Matters?

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 custody?"

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 attorneys of 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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