What is Meant by the ‘Best Interests’ of a Child?

The general, overarching standard in all states for child custody is to come to a resolution that is in the “best interest of the child.” But this standard might seem rather subjective. Exactly what is meant by “best interest?”

The following are a few factors that go into these decisions:

  • The child’s age: There are many judges who believe younger children are better off living with their mothers, especially if the mother has already served as the primary caregiver or is currently breastfeeding.
  • Parents’ living situations: Judges aim to place children in homes that are going to provide positive living environments. Parents should have living situations that are stable and allow for continuity in the children’s lives (for example, allowing them to stay in the same school).
  • Cooperation with spouse: Judges want to see that a parent is willing to cooperate with the other parent and support his or her relationship with the kids. Cooperative parents are more likely to receive a positive resolution in a custody dispute.
  • Risk factors: If there is any risk of abuse or neglect by either parent, or if one parent has proven to be incapable due to factors such as alcoholism, drug abuse or irresponsibility, the judge is unlikely to grant that person custody.
  • The child’s preferences: In some circumstances, judges may weigh a child’s preferences into their decision. Other courts completely disapprove of bringing children’s views into the equation. Even if a judge does allow children to provide their opinion, however, it will merely be one small aspect of the decision.


If you would like to learn more about child custody in New York, consult an experienced Long Island family law attorney with Bryan L. Salamone & Associates.

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