What Happens When a Child has a Preference in a Custody Case?

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Custody is complex and parents often disagree when it comes to what is best for their children. Additionally, children may also have strong preferences when it comes to what is best for themselves. As a result, a child may want to have a say in a custody agreement. Read on to learn more about what happens when a child has a preference in a custody case in New York.

How is custody determined by a New York judge?

When making a decision about custody, a New York judge will examine some of the following factors:

  • The parents’ ability to communicate, cooperate and agree regarding matters of the child
  • The parent’s willingness to accept custody and any unwillingness to allow parenting time
  • The relationship of the child with their parents and siblings
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • The safety of the child and the safety of one parent from another
  • The child’s needs
  • The stability of the home environment
  • The quality and continuity of the child’s education
  • The fitness of both parents
  • The geographical proximity of the parents’ homes
  • The parents’ employment responsibilities

Does a judge have to take a child’s preference into account?

In New York, a judge does not legally have to consider a child’s preference when it comes to making a custody decision. However, a judge may consider the child’s preference if the child is of sufficient age. There is no specific age that qualifies as sufficient in New York. The most important thing to do is work with an experienced family law attorney.

Physical vs Legal custody:

The two main types of custody awarded in New York include:

  • Physical custody: This type of custody is awarded to the parent with whom the child spends more nights of the week. This parent is typically responsible for providing the child with basic necessities including food, a stable home, clothing, education, and more.
  • Legal custody: This refers to a parent’s right to make important decisions in the child’s life. These decisions may include choices regarding academics, religion, medical treatments, relocation, and more. It is important to note that even if a parent does not have physical custody, he or she can still have legal custody. If you have any questions or concerns about child custody in New York, our firm is here to help. Reach out today to speak with a skilled family law attorney.


Matters of divorce and family law should be navigated with the guidance of an experienced attorney. If you need strong legal representation regarding matters of divorce, family law, and estate law, contact the Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C. to schedule a consultation today.

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What Our Clients Are Saying

I hired Susan to represent me in a divorce matter where I was fighting for custody and to limit my wife's equitable share of our assets. I won custody of our son, kept the marital residence, kept my professional practice, kept my building and paid less than half to my wife. This was after a long-term marriage. She could persuade the court that equitable is not equal and sometimes the man does deserve to win!

‐ Dave

I first must say that I had been represented by two prior attorneys both of whom had simply taken my money and left me nothing to show for it in my custody case. They kept telling me what they were doing for me but I found out they were lying. Susan on the other hand had gotten me temporary custody and support for my children and myself within two months of hiring her. I cannot say enough about her.

‐ Craig

After talking to a few other attorneys, I hired Susan to represent me in my divorce and custody dispute. I was reluctant to go with her because she was the cheapest out of all the other attorneys I met with, but I'm so glad I did. I am 100% positive no one else would have done such a great job with my case as Susan and her staff. Her work is quality, her staff is reliable and her character is honorable. There...

‐ Linda

I had a very difficult case where I had already burned through two attorneys who were unable to get me custody of my children and complete my divorce. Susan was able to rapidly work out an agreement and not let it just malinger on like my previous experiences. She was also considerate of my financial situation unlike all of the other lawyers I had spoken to. I highly recommend her if you want complete and caring service with an in-depth knowledge of...

‐ Joanne


The Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C. proudly serves clients throughout Suffolk County, New York in their divorce, family law, and estate planning matters. If you require the services of an experienced Suffolk County attorney, schedule a consultation with The Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C. today.

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