Divorce touches on many kinds of issues. Even a basic divorce in which both parties find that the marriage isn’t working out for them may include issues touching on property and the division of any accumulated assets. A divorce that includes children has special issues and laws that may apply to each party. Anyone who is undergoing this process should keep one thing in mind as it happens. That is that the judge will want to make sure that the children of the marriage are not harmed in any way. A judge will attempt to see the marriage through the eyes of the children. Their goal is ascertain what serves the child best and what will provide them with the help they need in order to grow into mature and functional adults. As part of this process, the judge will carefully consider all issues related to child custody and any form of visitation.
New York State Laws
Queens falls under the jurisdiction of New York state. As such, anyone seeking any form of child custody and visitation in this borough should be well aware of what laws and conditions may apply to them personally. New York state is one of several states that allow children to testify on their own behalf. A judge can hear a child’s testimony in private. The age of the child may have little bearing on this choice. A judge may decide that even a child in grade school is capable of making their wishes known to the court and stating what they want from any ongoing custody arrangements. The judge can also choose to ignore such testimony in favor of other facts. In general, the older the child is the more likely the judge is to take their wishes into account when assigning any form of custody or visitation agreement. The judge can also take into account which parent has the finances to remain in Queens and continue living in their current home or apartment complex. At the same time, the judge also has enormous leeway under state law to decide on a course of action.
In order for the court system to have a say in any form of custody issues, the child needs to have been a resident of Queens for at least six months. Children younger than six months must have been born in Queens in order for the courts to have a say in any kind of child visitation plan. Neither parent involved has the automatic right to assume custody. However, the court may take into account that a baby is still nursing and thus consider the mother’s position more stronger when determining custody and child visitation arrangements. As the petition for a divorce begins, one parent can petition the court for a temporary agreement that lets them serve as the primary custodian. However, if there is no such agreement, one parent can legally keep that child under their roof. Petitions for custody are heard in family court initially. It is possible to head to a higher court and seek a ruling. However, under New York state rules, only one related divorce case is allowed in the court system at any one time.
Marriage and Other Related Issues
Custody and visitation issues can also come to into play even if the couple has never married. A father can agree to sign a document known as an acknowledgement of paternity. This is a formal agreement that the father admits to being the father of the child. If the father does not agree to sign such an agreement, this means they do not have the right for custody or for any kind of child visitation. A father who admits to such paternity usually has the right under state laws to have what is known as frequent and meaningful visits. In that case, they have the right to see the child under state laws according to the agreement worked out by the parties. A court may choose to deny this decision under certain circumstances. For example, if the court finds that one party is unfit in some way such as evidence of domestic or child abuse, the courts can refuse to to let that parent exercise any kind of visitation rights. A child also has the right to refuse to see a parent if they do not wish to remain in touch. This is why legal counsel is a must for everyone involved in such cases.
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