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Do children get a say in custody proceedings?

New York actually has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country. In 2016, only 12.9 out of every 1,000 married couples divorced, which is substantially lower than in other states where the rate can get over 20 per 1,000 couples. 

One of the most contentious issues in any divorce involves child custody. There are many factors a judge takes into consideration when determining whom the child will spend time with. These factors include each parent's emotional health, each parent's ability to provide a stable home and any history of domestic violence. However, another factor that can come up if the child is old enough and mature enough is the child's own preference. 

Child can voice an opinion at any age

New York law allows children of any age to have an opinion about which parent to spend the most time with. However, in most cases, a judge will not seriously consider it until the child is at least 13 years old. The reason is that children may not know what is actually best for them. They may want to spend more time with one parent over the other because that parent is more lenient. Judges can see through this and will not take it into serious consideration. Judges will also look out for signs that the child clearly received coaxing to testify in a certain manner.

Most children will not actually have to take the stand

Taking the stand in a courtroom full of people can be traumatic for many young children. As a result, New York judges typically do not require children to voice their opinions out loud in front of everyone. Instead, the child can voice a preference for custody to an attorney, and an attorney will relay that information to the judge. There are emergency situations where a child taking the stand is a necessity, but those instances are extremely rare. 

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