Unmarried or divorcing parents must work out an arrangement regarding the custody of their child or children. Child custody cases, now referred to as time sharing or parental responsibility in New York, need to be resolved with professionalism and care. The courts in New York will always seek the arrangement that is in the best interests of the children. Our child custody lawyers NYC can help you establish and maintain custody of your children. Custody can be established by agreement between the parents but, where parents disagree with each other about which of them should have custody of their child, judges face some of the most sensitive and difficult cases that can be brought before a court. Custody disputes need to be resolved with the highest degree of professionalism and care. To find the best child custody lawyers for you, look for lawyers who can understand your child’s unique needs. The needs of each child vary and having a professional who will truly have your child’s best interests in mind will help great deal. Top rated child custody lawyers NYC know that custody battles are decided on the basis of individual circumstances. While litigation over custody can be a very difficult process, it is important to protect your rights and the well being of your child. Our child custody lawyers have more than 40 years of combined courtroom experience presenting these cases. We understand the importance of paying attention to each child’s unique situation in order to present our clients’ custody cases effectively. Parents do not have a presumptive right to custody of their own children in New York. [D.R.L. Sec. 70] Custody is never viewed through the lens of parental rights in New York. Instead, the welfare of the child is the primary focus of the state’s concern, and parents are awarded custody according to their abilities to provide for that individual child’s needs. Generally, parents may work out their own arrangements regarding the custody of their own children by simply agreeing between themselves. It is still important that they have these agreements written by an experienced family court attorney. If not, their agreement may be unenforceable later. In cases where parents disagree over the custody of their child or children, either parent may ask the court to decide the issue for them. For unmarried parents, custody disputes are decided in the family court; for divorcing parents, custody disputes are decided in the state supreme court. Each of these custody trials must be decided according to its own unique set of facts, and generalities will not be applied. “Uncontested” cases refer to those where the parties have reached an agreement on how custody of their children should be assigned. “Contested” cases are ones where the parties argue against each other in court and let the judge decide who gets custody of the children. These judges will always seek the arrangement that is “in the best interests of the children after a consideration of all of the circumstances.” Therefore, contested custody cases are necessarily fact-intensive. The best child custody lawyers NYC will be careful to take the time needed to understand your family’s circumstances in detail. Custody is not a “winner take all” proposition. It is only a minority of cases where one parent obtains sole custody to the total exclusion of the other. More commonly, one parent is awarded primary custody and the non-custodial parent is awarded significant time with the child. Many custody arrangements will use the terms “parenting time,” “time-sharing,” or “areas of parental responsibility” instead of the word “custody,” in order to delineate the specific areas of participation being exercised by each of the parties regarding the children. Other custody arrangements simply specify the non-custodial parent is awarded a “visitation” schedule which defines that party’s regular parenting times. The most restrictive form of participation by the non-custodial parent is “supervised visitation,” which allows a parent to spend time with the children only while being monitored by a specific adult, family member or child care professional.…Some of the other factors that courts take into consideration are: the child’s age, health, and special needs; the capability of each parent to care for the child; the history of care provided by a parent for the child; health and physical condition of each parent; the home environment that each parent has provided or will provide to the child; educational needs of the child and the ability of each parent to meet those needs; the existence or absence of extended family members; either parent’s interference with the relationship between the child and the other parent; religion; the preference of the child if the child is old enough; any child abuse by either parent; the effect of separating siblings from each other; either parent’s previous agreement; the relative nurturing ability of each parent; the length of time the child has resided with either parent; and the child’s need for stability. Judges will, in most cases, appoint a third, separate attorney to represent the children. Ordinarily, a parent speaks for children. However, when both parents disagree about the best interest of the children, neither parent can speak for the children. That is why the courts appoint a separate spokesperson for the children and, in some cases, a separate attorney for each one of the children.
Even after custody and visitation have been decided — regardless of whether that was done by agreement or by litigation — it may still be possible to ask the court to change its decision later. If a party can show (1) that circumstances have changed since the court made its original decision and (2) that the change was not foreseeable at the time when the court made its original decision, then that party is permitted to bring a petition for a change of custody.
Figuring out which parent will have custody of children in New York is a difficult process. You may feel unsure what your rights are and how the law will apply to your specific situation. Our child custody lawyers NYC are ready to take your hand and guide you through the process of establishing custody and protecting your rights.