Can Children Choose in Staten Island Custody Cases?

If you are a parent who is headed for divorce and your children are under 18 and still at home, one of your top concerns may be child custody. For some couples, child custody isn’t an issue, but for others it’s the biggest issue.

For example, when the father travels a lot for his job and his wife is an elementary school teacher. Obviously, she is the wiser choice and the children will live with her most of the time. However, child custody isn’t always this black and white, now is it?

Common Child Custody Conflicts

Sometimes, the children are older and the husband wants the teenage son full-time because he doesn’t like Mom’s new boyfriend. Or, Dad doesn’t like Mom’s “easy going” parenting style because he thinks it lacks rules and structure. Mom doesn’t like Dad’s strict, domineering parenting style and so, we have a conflict about child custody.

Staten Island is a nice area and a lot of the families living here are established by two parents who love and adore their children, even though the parents’ opinions on everything from discipline, to homework, to teenage dating, religion, and education may seem to differ.

When divorcing spouses both have the room and means to care for their children, and they each desire to have custody, sometimes their desires are so strong that they refuse to give in and the custody matter goes before the judge to decide.

In these situations, the parents almost always ask their divorce attorneys, “Can my child decide which parent to live with?” We especially hear this when the child is older, for example, when the child is in seventh grade or above. It’s understandable why parents would ask this, after all, it seems like the simplest way to resolve the dispute.

Ultimately, Custody is the Judge’s Decision

We’ll tell you right now that family court judges are always interested in what the child wants, but that doesn’t mean the child will always get it. A judge will want to hear what a five-year-old desires just as much as what a 16-year-old has to say, but still, it’s not up to the child to decide.

Why can’t an older child decide? Because, they are a child. Sometimes a child will be enticed by a parent’s offers to “stay up as late as they want,” or “have no curfew” or they’re promised a new car if they choose a specific parent; giving a child everything they want is not necessarily in their best interests – that’s how the judge sees it.

The judge will always consider a child’s preferences; however, the judge will examine the totality of the circumstances before rendering a decision. Even if a child is 13 or 16, he or she may not get what they want if the judge doesn’t concur with their desires.

If your child wants to live you, by all means their desires should be communicated to the judge, but you may need to provide additional information to convince the judge that you are the best parent to care for your son or daughter at this point in time.

If you’re getting divorced and you’re concerned about child custody, contact The Law Office of Keith M. Casella, P.C. today for a free consultation with a Staten Island divorce lawyer!