In New York, child custody is divided into two categories. The first is legal custody. Legal custody essentially means that a parent has the right to make legal decisions for the child. Some examples of those legal decisions include the religion of the child, the extra-curricular activities of the child, and the education of the child. Our experienced White Plains child custody lawyers can fight for your right to be involved in these decisions.
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Custody battles can be quite emotional and quite bruising. You need an experienced child custody and visitation attorney who will fight for you to have custody of your children and can achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family.
Physical custody refers to where the child will physically reside after the divorce or separation. Is the child mostly with the mother or is the child mostly with the father? Physical custody amounts to the parent being the custodial parent of the child. If sole physical custody is awarded, the non-custodial parent will usually be awarded visitation or access rights.
Custody issues can be very complex and many times it may be appropriate to have some sort of joint custody arrangement. However, even in joint custody situations many complications can arise. If the two parents cannot agree on a major decision about the child’s or children’s life, who gets to decide? Must the parties go back to Court or is there some kind of tie breaking mechanism already agreed to? How is time with the children split? Is it precisely 50/50 by the hour or does one of the parents receive slightly more time? If so, will child support be paid?How Does the Court Decide Who Gets Custody?
In most cases, a family court judge will favor a shared custody arrangement. It is only under certain circumstances that a judge would award sole custody to just one parent. However, they may choose to do so if it would be in the “best interests of the child”—which is the standard for determining child custody in New York. It is also unlikely, that if the parents cannot get along with each other that a Judge will make them co-parent. Which means that if the case is getting hotly litigated the Judge will probably need to choose a custodial parent. An experienced child custody lawyer at our White Plains firm can help you present your position persuasively.
Other factors that may be considered by the court include:
- The ability of each parent to provide a stable home
- The age and physical and mental health of each parent
- The amount of time each parent could spend with the child
- Existing informal custody agreements, if applicable
- Alcohol or drug use / past instances of domestic violence or abuse
- The ability of each parent to financially support the child
- The willingness of a parent to co-parent with the other parent
Many times a Judge will appoint an attorney to represent your children and many times the Court will appoint a forensic psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker to meet with the parents and evaluate the family dynamic. That forensic expert will issue a report to the court and may need to testify at any future custody hearing or trial.
If you are entering into a custody agreement, or if you are in court adjudicating your custodial rights, it’s very important for you to meet with an attorney to determine what type of custody you would like and what type of custody you are entitled to in New York State. Call Tilem & Associates, PC at 877-377-8666 for a free consult with a child custody attorney in White Plains.
Our firm serves all of New York City, including Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Nassau County, Suffolk County, and Westchester County.