Factors in Child Custody Determinations
Custody may be awarded to either parent in a dissolving marriage or a non-married separating household, but the decision the court makes is always based on the best interests of the child. The goal is to provide a stable and loving environment for the child with as little disruption as possible, and the regulations outlined in New York Domestic Relations Law §240 and FCA § 651 are structured with this in mind.
Some of the factors a Syracuse Family or Supreme Court Judge may examine in order to achieve this include:
- Physical and mental health of both spouses
- Which parent was the majority caregiver before separation
- Work schedules of both parents
- Abuse issues
- Wishes of the child, if applicable
- Geographic locations of each parent’s house in relation to the child’s primary residence, school district or extracurricular activities
- Location of other siblings and third parties actively involved with the child
- Child’s involvement in the community
Modifications to Custody Arrangements
Family circumstances change, and parenting plans may need modification from time to time. As your child grows older, a new school may provide better opportunities, or a change in your or the other parent’s lives may dictate a change in custody or parenting time.
As established in NY DRL §240(j) and FCA Article 6, an application for modification of a prior Judgment of Divorce or prior Family Court Order may be brought to request a change in an established custody order. To be successful, the modification request must demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances since the last order was made, that warrants an adjustment to an established custody order, and that the change requested is in the child’s best interests.
Some typical reasons might be relocation of a parent, access to better opportunities for the child with the non-custodial parent, alienation from a parent, domestic violence, or parental abuse. As always, the court will utilize the best interests of the child when granting or denying a motion for modification.