The older a child is, the more their preferences are considered. A child in elementary school will be asked, but their stated preferences are taken with a grain of salt, because they are not really yet at an age where they can appreciate some of the issues. As the child progresses into middle school and certainly high school, their stated preferences are taken much more seriously with the court. If a child is in high school, their stated preferences are most likely what is going to happen, unless the judge believes that granting that preference is going to put them at serious risk of abuse or neglect.
When Would We Need To Use A Guardian Ad Litem Or A Custody Evaluator?
On a technical level, in New York State, the term guardian ad litem refers to an attorney, who stands in the place of a parent who has some kind of serious mental health issues that causes them to be ruled incompetent to manage their affairs.
A custody evaluator acts as a forensic mental health professional, conducting a forensic evaluation on the custody issues between the parties. They also do a psycho-social background on the parties and observe the interaction between the parties and the children, and then render a report to the court. The custody evaluator may also act as a parenting coordinator, assigned by the court to act as a human facilitator on access issues or decision issues.
Will My Child Ever Need To Appear In Court?
In most contested custody cases, if the child is old enough to articulate his or her preference, the judge will interview the child in his chambers, with only the attorney and a court reporter present. That is how the child puts his or her preferences on the record, in New York.
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