Suffolk County Child Custody Lawyer Providing Guidance for Clients Dealing With Child Custody Matters in New York
Child custody is perhaps one of the most contested aspects of a divorce, as child custody orders can greatly affect a parent’s relationship with the child as well as the child’s well-being. Learn how child custody works in the state of New York and when to turn to a child custody attorney for help.
How Does Child Custody Work in New York?
In New York, child custody orders address a variety of important aspects of parenting, such as who the child will live with and how the parents will share responsibility for making important decisions on behalf of the child. The courts in New York make child custody decisions based on the best interest of the child standard rather than defaulting to one parent or another as the caretaker – meaning both parents have equal rights regardless of gender or other biases such as ethnicity, religion, or cultural background. Not all child custody matters must be litigated in court if both parents are able to agree on a parenting plan and include that plan in their settlement agreement.
The most common type of custody in New York is joint custody, in which both parents spend time with the child based on a parenting schedule that can be determined by them or by the court. Another type of custody that can be awarded in the state of New York is sole custody, in which only one parent has custody of the child.
There are usually two parts to a custody order. First, the order will define who has legal custody of the child, meaning who gets to make important decisions for the child, such as where the child will attend school, what kind of religious education the child will receive, and the type of medical care the child may get. The custody order may give both parents equal decision-making powers or may award one of the parents the power to make the final decision. Then, there is physical or residential custody, which simply addresses which parent the child will live with for most of the time. The parent that the child resides with is considered the custodial parent, and the non-custodial parent usually has a predetermined visitation schedule to access the child.
What Is the Child’s Best Interest Factor and How Is It Used in Custody Decisions?
As mentioned previously, the state of New York no longer assumes that the mother is automatically the best caretaker for the child. Instead, it focuses on making custody determinations based on what is best for the child, using a series of guidelines and standards commonly referred to as the “best interest of the child.” Additionally, parents are allowed to determine a parenting plan and schedule that best fits their family’s needs if they are able to negotiate an agreement.
A judge may consider many factors and weigh them to see how they affect the child. Some of those factors include the mental and physical health and stability of each parent, the parenting skills of each parent, whether either parent has a history of addiction or domestic violence, the home environment of each parent, and other factors such as each parent’s work schedule and their ability to provide for the child’s basic needs. While the courts prefer to keep both parents involved with raising the child by awarding joint custody whenever possible, the best interest of the child standard can also be used to make sole custody decisions in cases where having contact with a parent may be detrimental to the child’s physical or emotional well-being.
Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With in New York?
A common question many child custody clients have concerns the ability of the child to choose which parent he or she wants to live with. In New York, children who are considered mature enough to be interviewed by the judge – usually at the age of 12 or older – may express their preference for which parent they would rather live with. However, the final decision is still up to the judge, and the judge may or may not go along with what the child prefers. Of course, parents who are in agreement may take into consideration their child’s desires and can include that in their settlement agreement if they have one.
The child’s preference is just one of many factors in the best interest of the child standard. A child cannot decide which parent to live with but can certainly express their preference. Children may sometimes say they want to live with their mother or their father for the wrong reasons – such as one of the parents allowing them to have less discipline in their routine, or perhaps the child is being coerced to say certain things and wants to please their mother or father. Until the child turns 18, it is up to a judge (or to the parents, if they can agree) to decide which parent the child should live with.
Child Custody Mediation Attorney?
If you and your spouse are able to agree on a parenting plan, using the services of an attorney who is trained in mediating child custody matters can prevent you from costly litigation. Because the state of New York awards equal rights to both parents when it comes to custody matters, it is important to be prepared and able to provide the nurturing, safe and positive environment that your child needs to thrive. By working with a child custody mediation attorney, you will be increasing your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome for you and your family.
At the Law Office of Gina M. Pellettieri, PLLC, you can rest assured you will be receiving high-quality, knowledgeable legal services and advice for your family’s child custody needs. Attorney Gina M. Pellettieri and her legal team have successfully handled countless child custody cases in Suffolk County and surrounding areas. Whether you are getting ready to fight a child custody battle or have questions, reach out to the Law Office of Gina M. Pellettieri at (631) 320-1493.