New York Judges’ Approach to Deciding Matters of Child Custody
In New York State, judges typically do not ask or allow children to testify in divorce court or dictate with whom they will live. Depending on the case, a judge may consult with both parents’ attorneys to find out if a child has a preference, sometimes bringing in a third person to represent them if the parents’ lawyers provide contradictory information about the child’s first choice.
On the whole, judges in New York City are more likely to decide for themselves who a child should live with, even if a child (or an older sibling) has a particular preference.
Siblings and Child Custody Arrangements
Older siblings are often very helpful to parents and can provide an additional measure of stability and comfort to younger children after divorce. Judges will consider this when assessing where children should live and with whom. Except in special cases, children are unlikely to be separated from one another and sent to live with different parents, as this may not be in the child’s best interest from a judge’s perspective.
It could cause problems if a child over 18 years old chooses to live with one parent and/or testifies against the other in court. It may also affect the final child custody arrangement if an adult child speaks in court about issues like domestic abuse, drug or alcohol use, and other family issues that could impact a judge’s perception of a younger child’s best interest. However, it is still ultimately the judge’s decision and typically will not come down to either child’s preference, even if an older, opinionated sibling does attempt to sway a younger child.
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