Best Interest of the Child

When there is a court case that affects a child, like custody, parental rights, or adoption, the court will consider the "best interest" of the child when making its decision.

There is no standard definition of "best interest" of the child. In general, it refers to the factors that the Judge considers when deciding what will best serve the child and who is best suited to take care of the child. In New York, the "child's health and safety shall be the paramount concerns" when making a decision.


Custody & Visitation

When awarding custody and visitation, courts do not favor one parent over the other parent. The court awards custody and visitation based on what is best for the child. The Judge will look at many things to figure out what would be in the best interest of the child, such as:

  • which parent has been the main care giver/nurturer of the child
  • the parenting skills of each parent, their strengths and weaknesses and their ability to provide for the child's special needs, if any
  • the mental and physical health of the parents
  • whether there has been domestic violence in the family
  • work schedules and child care plans of each parent
  • the child's relationships with brothers, sisters, and members of the rest of the family
  • what the child wants, depending on the age of the child
  • each parent's ability to cooperate with the other parent and to encourage a relationship with the other parent, when it is safe to do so

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