Divorce is filled with pain and difficulty. When you married, you thought you would be happy. You believe you had found your life partner, and that your relationship would last forever. That has not turned out to be the case. You must now face the realities of forging a new life out of the old one.
Your children are your priority. Looking after their welfare and securing their future is essential. You should do your utmost to minimize the damage done to them by the divorce. Part of meeting this aim is ensuring that you remain in their lives. You must not surrender your parental rights, and you must fight every attempt to take them from you.
The very moment you see that divorce is imminent you must ready yourself for the struggle over custody and visitation rights. It may be your desire to settle matters amicably with your ex. However, this is not always possible, and you might not realize until you are well into the proceedings that your former spouse has no intention of dealing fairly with you.
Divorce does strange things to people. The gentle and kind person you thought you knew may become your most implacable foe. The best way to prepare for such a situation is to hire a lawyer who specializes in family law. You will need someone by your side who understands the law and has experience taking cases before a family court judge.
The judge who hears your child custody case will decide with only one criterion in mind: what is in the best interest of the child. They will consider the following factors in making this determination:
-each parent’s ability to care for the child
-each parent’s mental and physical health
-verified incidents of domestic violence
-each parent’s work schedules
-the child’s desires if they are of age
-the parents’ ability to cooperate with one another
Judges rely only on clear evidence to come to their decisions, so you must make sure that you are able to present your abilities as a parent in their truest and best light. There are a number of things for you to think about.
If your ex can provide a loving, nurturing, and stable environment, and does want to share the responsibilities of parenting with you, then you may be able to work out a joint custody agreement. If you think your child is better off living with your ex but you want a generous visitation schedule, then you may agree to them having sole custody. No matter the arrangement, your main aim must be to keep your parental rights secure and free from infringements.
Maintaining your visitation rights may also require the services of a family lawyer. A family court judge will suspend the right of the non-custodial parent to see their child if they have reason to believe that parent is not mentally fit, uses drugs, has abused the child, or does not have a home that is safe and healthy for the child to be in. If your ex has claimed that you are unfit to your children for one or more of the above reasons, a family lawyer can help you disprove the claim and persuade the judge that your children are in a perfectly stable and nurturing environment when they are with you.
Another common situation that non-custodial parents have to deal with is the desire of the custodial parent to move to a different city. New York state law stipulates that the custodial parent must have the non-custodial parent’s consent before they can move the child to a place that makes access to them difficult.
The fact that your ex has sole custody of your kids does not mean they can deny you the right to see them by moving far away. If your ex has taken this action without your approval, you can go to a family court judge and get an order that requires them to return your kids to you—or to someplace where you will be able to visit them regularly.
You may have many battles ahead of you, and they are best waged with a lawyer who possesses the knowledge, skill, insight, and experience to get an outcome that is in your favor. Family court judges act as arbiters and guides. They are mainly concerned with ensuring that changed family relations do not adversely affect the mental and physical health of children. When taking your case before such a judge, you want a legal representative who has a clear command of the evidence, a deep understanding of family court judges, and a solid grasp of the law.
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