Child custody is one of the most important areas of family law in New York. For most parents, what’s best for their kids is the standard by which decisions must be made. Unfortunately, that altruistic desire notwithstanding, the legal system tends to be confusing and intimidating. Parents are generally ill equipped to represent themselves and their children before a judge. Our New York child custody attorneys can effectively represent you.
Joint Custody: Defined
The term “joint custody” can be defined as a custodial arrangement in which both parents participate in the raising of their minor child or children. In the New York Family Court system, a joint custody arrangement is often contrasted against a sole custody scenario. When a parent has sole custody, only that parent performs the duties of the primary parenting role in the upbringing of the children.
Joint Custody: No Presumption by Law
No child custody case in the New York Family Court begins under any assumption that joint custody the best option for children. Your interests would be best served with the help of a New York City custody lawyer to properly file your custody petition. The burden will be on you to showto the court the reason that you believe it’s in the best interests of the child to have a joint custody arrangment.
In fact, disagreements in the marriage don’t need to stop a qualified parent from having joint custody. The most important thing is not that the parents get along. What is critical is whether they can reasonably work together for the good of their kids.
Family Court Standard “Best Interests of the Child”
In custody cases, when a court hands down decisions, they arrive at those decisions based on what they perceive is “the best interests of the child”. The court takes several factors into account. Who’s been the primary caregiver for the child up until the time of the proceeding is a main consideration. The judge begins with where the child lives at present, where they attend school and which parent is most capable of giving them shelter and consistency. Additionally, a judge will assess the parenting skills of each parent. The question of either parent’s history of domestic violence must weigh heavily in the outcome. All detail, down to a parent’s work schedule, can come under scrutiny in making custody decisions.
In the vast majority of custody cases, judges award at least some parenting time to both of the parents. The objective of the court is for children to have an opportunity to build a strong relationship with both of their parents in whatever arrangement works best for the child’s health and safety. No two cases are the same. Because of this fact, it’s very important to be meticulous in preparing your case for the court’s consideration.
Best Advice for Success in Child Custody Cases
#1: Hire an attorney that focuses on the custody arrangment you prefer
The attorney you work with will be the most important part of getting custody. The sad reality is that divorce law and parental law are among the most treacherous cases. They have the potential to be greatly adversarial. You need a New York Child Custody attorney that works hard to foster agreements instead of getting you tied up in bitter court proceedings. Settling the case as quickly and amicably as possible is less expensive and traumatic for you and probably better for your child.
#2: Put your best foot forward: Establish a good rapport with your ex-spouse
Regardless of what may happen during the course of your legal matter, it is crucial that you reach out to your ex and have a friendly discussion about how you two will co-parent your children together at this juncture. It might surprise you how much goodwill can be nurtured through open discussion. When you establish this rapport, you and your ex-spouse will accomplish a lot of this work outside of antagonistic court battles. You can instead collaborate to do what is best for each other and your little ones. Your child custody and visitation attorney can also be there to help you out in mediation.
#3: Be sure to educate yourself about the legislation and the details of your case while it is all unfolding
The responsibility of knowing what the New York custody laws say when going through your case is yours. That way, you will be well aware of the custody and visitation rights and you will what you need to do to file a petition to change any current arrangements. Maintain open lines of communication with your lawyer also. One of their responsibilities is to answer any questions that that might come up during the process at any time.
What possible outcomes can I expect?
More often than not, both parents are awarded significant amounts of parenting time with their children. Even if you were not awarded with joint custody, the chances are great that you will still have significant time with your little ones. In extreme cases where deep concerns about one parent are evident, that parent might have parenting time only under limited conditions. This could be, for example, an order not to consume alcohol or substances. That parent may even have supervised visitation if the court feels that it’s best for the children’s safety.
Visitation of a Child in a New York Family Court: Who is Eligible?
Generally speaking, visitation rights are reserved for members of the immediate family of the child or children in question. The term “immediate family” encompasses the parents, the child’s siblings and half-siblings, and their grandparents. Family Court judges have the authority to rule as to whether visitation with the party petitioning is in the best interest of the child. A child’s parents have the legal right to be allowed frequent and meaningful visitation with them, unless it can be demonstrated in family court that such visits would somehow be detrimental to the child.
Contact a qualified New York Child Custody lawyer today.
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