Generally, New York courts will consider the wishes of the child as to his custodian. However, the court may determine whether the child is old enough, both in age and psychological maturity, to express a meaningful preference. Although age is not the singular consideration determining custody, teenagers are generally consulted.
When a judge, in a New York, does consult the child, generally, the judge will evaluate the reasons possibly motivating the child’s preference. In some cases, a judge may decide the child’s preference is not based on sufficiently reasonable considerations. For example, in a case outside of New York’s jurisdiction, a judge determined a 14 year old boy’s preference was not worthy of consideration, where the child based his preference on his father allowing him to wear his hair longer and stay out later.
When courts consider consulting with the child, the judge has two options. First, the judge may interview the child in chambers and on the record with the attorneys present, or the court can seek the advice of a professional who can submit a written report to the court. In either circumstance, the court will be cautious to avoid undue parental influence or coercion on the child being interviewed.