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How do best interests of the child affect custody and visitation?

When parents in New York have decided to part ways as a couple, there are frequently concerns as to how child custody and visitation rights will be allocated. While many factors go into the decision, one of the most important will be the "best interests of the child." This is a key consideration and the factors that enter into it should be understood as the case moves forward.

When assessing the best interests of the child, there are no foundational considerations that are applicable in every case. The cases will be considered on their own merits. Generally, the judge will assess all the factors and seek to ensure the child is cared for in the best possible way. The paramount concern is the child's health and safety. Neither parent will be favored over the other. The key is what will be best for the child.

Among the considerations are: if there was one parent who was the primary caregiver; how each parent interacts with the child and what the level of parenting skills, abilities and positives and negatives are; the parents' health in a mental and physical context; if there has been a domestic violence issue; what the work schedules are and the parent's child care plans; if there are siblings and the child's relationship with them; if the child has a preference and is of age to express it to have it given weight; and if the parents are capable of cooperating with one another while encouraging a relationship with the other parent.

Because emotions will run high when there is a disagreement or outright dispute over child custody and visitation rights, the situation can quickly spiral out of control. In the best-case scenario, the parents are amicable and cordial, able to put the child's needs above any lingering problems from the past relationship between them. In many instances, however, the parents are unable to come to a consensus. It is imperative to remember the best interests of the child and have legal assistance regardless of the circumstances. Help from a law firm experienced with custody and visitation can be beneficial.

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