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New York child custody: Is 14 too young to pick a parent?

Many New York couples are familiar with the myriad of issues that have to be dealt with during a divorce. Many of those couples may have children and may also be aware of the fact that the issue of child custody can be one of the most contentious. The senate of one state is attempting to decide whether to lower the age at which the child can have input into what parent they live with after the divorce.

In New York, children as young as 14 can go before the judge to give reasons they would like to live with one parent instead of the other. It is then up to the judge to determine what weight, if any, the child's preference will have in a custody decision. For the state that is currently considering lowering their age to 14, the question of whether the decision would place too much stress on the child has arisen.

For some children that may be true, but for others, the ability to make the choice can help the child through the divorce process. Still other opposition questions whether parents would manipulate their children and use them to get back at the other parent in court. This may be true in some cases, but for those children, it may be a good thing that a judge is making the final decision in order to weed out manipulative parents.

In the end, when the issue of child custody ends up in court, it may be because the parents are suffering so much through the end of their marriage that it is difficult to see any light at the end of the tunnel. The fact that a child of 14 can be given the opportunity to make a choice and express their desires in court may help bring that child's parents through the darkness that sometimes accompanies a contentious divorce. Ultimately, no matter what went astray in the marriage, the couple will always be parents.

Source:, "Senate bill would give youth a say in divorce proceedings," Robert Gehrke, Feb. 7, 2013