Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Rockland & Westchester County Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Child Custody > Do Mothers Still Get Preference in Child Custody Disputes in New York State?

Do Mothers Still Get Preference in Child Custody Disputes in New York State?


Traditionally, mothers were given preference when determining custody by family courts across the country. Today, state courts have shifted to a “best interests of the child” standard that favors neither the mother nor the father when deciding who has legal rights over the child or where they should live. It’s true that, in many cases, children live with their mother and the father has visitation. However, fathers are more frequently afforded equal parenting time and shared custody of their children. In this article, the Westchester County child custody attorneys at the Law Office of Robert. S. Sunshine will discuss father’s rights in custody matters and how they work under New York law.

The best interests of the child standard in New York State 

While the law lists several factors for judges to consider when determining the best interests of the child, judges have broad leeway in how they interpret the statute and the statute itself is quite broad. Judges will consider such factors as the stability of the household, the parents’ ability to provide for their children, evidence of abuse or neglect within the household, and which parent was the primary caretaker during the marriage.

In New York child custody cases, family courts often give preference to the parent who can officially demonstrate they were the child’s primary caregiver during the marriage. Courts generally assume that the child’s stability is a key factor in helping them transition to a post-divorce reality. This means that they err on the side of keeping things the same way that they were before the marriage broke down.

Child psychologists have stressed the importance of the bond between the child and their primary caregiver. This has led the courts to recognize the primary caregiver standard as a key factor when determining custody. The emotional connection between the child and the primary caregiver is considered a key aspect of the child’s development. As a result, courts focus on which parent acted as the primary caregiver toward the child during the marriage.

Parental alienation in New York custody cases

 In New York, the courts default on the presumption that it is in the best interests of the child to have both of their parents play a key role in their life. Unless there is ample proof to do otherwise, courts will award shared legal custody of the children and ensure both parents have access to the children. Some parents who don’t want the other parent involved in the children’s lives attempt to alienate the children from the other parent. This is known as parental alienation.

The New York courts recognize that parental alienation is destructive for the development of the child and can use it as a reason to modify or change a custody agreement.

Talk to a Westchester County Child Custody Attorney Today 

If you are a father who wants to spend more time with his children, call the Westchester County family lawyers at the Law Offices of Robert S. Sunshine today to schedule an appointment and learn more about how we can help.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn