In this case the Appellate Division examined whether the family court considered the 14-year-old child’s wishes when granting the father visitation.
In making decisions about custody and visitation, the Family Court’s primary concern is to do what is in the best interests of the child. The determination of what is in the best interests of the child requires an examination of a number of factors. One factor is a rebuttable presumption that it is in the child’s best interest to have a relationship with both parents. In other words, unless there is convincing evidence that it would not be in the best interests of the child to have visitation with the noncustodial parent, the court will allow it. For example, if there was evidence that visitation would result in the child suffering serious emotional harm or physical harm, then the court would not order visitation.
If the child is old enough, the court will also consider the wishes of the child. In this case, the child, a 14-year old girl, was interviewed in camera. It appears that the child did not want to spend time with her father, not because she was concerned that he would harm her, but because she did not have a relationship with him. He was basically a stranger to her and she had no emotional bond with him.