In Manhattan and throughout the entire state of New York, child custody proceedings are handled by the Family Court system. Because rulings of the Family Court can be almost impossible to appeal and the judges are given wide leeway in coming to their verdicts, it is strongly recommended that anytime you find yourself subject to hearings within this court system you hire the best lawyer you can find.
Our lawyers have decades of experience handling child custody cases in the state’s Family Courts. We specialize in these cases and know the relevant case law and the ways in which judges typically interpret facts better than anyone else in the city. Going it alone or with inadequate legal counsel in a child custody hearing is a nearly surefire way to guarantee that you will not achieve the goals that you seek. Our lawyers know the system inside and out, and we can maximize the chances that you will prevail in the Family Courts.
While there are many lawyers throughout Manhattan that handle everything from drunk driving to family law themselves, we believe that the only way to correctly approach family law is through laser-like specialization. This is especially true in the area of child custody cases, where the stakes could not be higher and the chances of a decision being reversed, once made by the judge, is nil.
The Family Court system is not like other areas of legal practice. For starters, in normal criminal and civil cases, the entire process is centered around establishing the guilt or innocence of a defendant through the accurate piecing together of past events. This is usually accomplished with such concrete evidence as ballistics or forensic accounting, things with scientific certitude that are not subject to much latitude in interpretation.
On the other hand, judges presiding over child custody hearings are attempting to ascertain the most likely patterns of behavior that will occur in the future. This inherently opens the process up to much subjectivity and open guesswork. As a result, things like the testimony of state child services investigators and that of expert witnesses can hold great sway.
This is an example of where a good lawyer can make all of the difference. The type of evidence, what is admitted to the court and taking control of the narrative at trial can make the difference between winning and losing. An experienced attorney knows how to handle these situations and will use their skill, knowledge and expertise to guide the proceedings in a way that will ensure a positive outcome for their client.
There are two recognized types of custody in the state of New York. The first is physical custody. This simply refers to the parent with which the child primarily lives. Physical custody is usually not jointly granted.
On the other hand, the second form of custody, legal custody, is often allowed on a joint basis. However, judges are usually quite hesitant to grand joint custody in cases where there is any amount of contention or hostility between the two parents. This means that, in practice, it is often not viable to seek joint custody with an ex-spouse once the matter has entered the Family Court system.
This means that it will often be the best strategy to go for sole legal custody. Again, this is something that only a highly experienced and skilled lawyer, who has specialized in child custody law, can effectively help you achieve.
For more information, contact our law offices today.
A divorce can be complicated by several matters. One of the most important are that of any children involved in the marriage. One parent may bring a child to the marriage that they had with another partner. However, that child may be living with the biological parent and the stepparent for many years. The couple may have decided to have one or more children together. The children’s ages may also be a consideration. Parents can have children ranging in age from babyhood to those in college. A divorce can be an expensive but necessary solution if the couple is unable to work out their existing issues together. One party to the divorce may find they have vastly increased expenses because they must maintain a separate residence. They may also find they have less income because they need to pay for certain other expenses that were otherwise covered such as their health care costs.
One way to save money in the aftermath of a divorce is to move somewhere with reduced costs. Many parents are happy to help out their grown children. Moving back home often means reduced housing costs as well as help in other ways. A parent can help the adult child get back on feet both financially and emotionally. While a parent is a great resource for an adult child, some people who are undergoing a divorce may be worried that doing so can have unexpected costs. They may be worried about how this will look when it comes to any kind of childcare and custody arrangements as the divorce proceedings. Many parents are concerned that this may indicate to others that their living situation and finances are unstable in some way. It’s a good idea to be aware of such issues before working out any custody arrangements. Making all financial and living arrangements clear from the start can indicate to the courts that the parent is not hiding anything and has been up front about their living arrangements before the process of deciding on custody even begins.
The Best Situation
Judges take many factors into account when deciding on what kind of custody arrangements are in the best interest of all children involved in the divorce. Merely because one party has more money does not mean they will automatically get sole custody or primary custody. A judge will also look at where the child lives in relation to their present schooling situation. If a parent lives with their children in their parent’s house and it has a better school district or the living arrangement allows the children to continue attending their present school, living with parents may actually be a factor in the parent’s favor. On the contrary, if the parents are far away from the present school or out of the district entirely, this may not be looked upon favorably. The judge may prefer to let the other parent have primary custody so that the children can continue attending the schools they like best.
The Living Circumstances
A judge will also look closely at the exact living arrangements at a grown parent’s home. If the parent is sleeping on the sofa and the kids are sharing beds with others, this may be seen in a negative light. However, if there’s a group of designed rooms designed solely for use of the grown child and their own children, this can be seen in a favorable light. For example, if a grown child and their children have an entire basement to themselves, this is seen as just as fine as if they were living in a private home or apartment. The same is true of other factors such as the ability of the grandparents to provide additional funds for their grandchildren. If a grown parent can offer lots of fiscal help such as help in attending a good private school, a judge is likely to see this as a plus when determining custody arrangements.
While all such factors play out in custody cases, what judges are ultimately looking for are stable arrangements. If the grown child moves back home with their own kids, it may be best to get every single thing in writing. This means how long the children can stay with the grandparents as well as any kind of money that must be paid for room and board. Contacting a lawyer can help sooth over any potential issues and show great overall parental stability.
The existence of an affair alone is not enough to determine which spouse gets custody of the children. However, it is possible that circumstances surrounding the affair could lead to questions regarding placement. During a divorce, it is always best if parents can work together to put their child in the healthiest situation. When this is not possible, the court will decide which parent is awarded primary custody based on a set of laws that determine “the best interests of the child.”
Determining the Best Interests of the Child
Each state has a set of laws that help to determine where children are placed in the event of a divorce. State statutes regarding child welfare differ slightly but the general factors deciding placement are similar. Some of the common factors considered when deciding placement can be summarized as:
The principles of child welfare laws are designed to ensure the health, safety, and happiness of children in the home. Some states even consider the wishes of children who are old enough to make a reasonable choice. Other factors likely to be considered are any history of substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental illness in either parent. If one parent had shouldered the bulk of parenting responsibilities, they might be more likely to be awarded custody.
When Your Affair Might Affect Placement
The occurrence of an affair by either parent is not a major deciding factor in child custody. It is common for extramarital affairs to be completely ignored in today’s divorce courts. However, if your affair has affected the well-being of your children, it might become a problem. If the affair caused discomfort, embarrassment, or mental distress to your children, your ability as a caregiver may be compromised. If your children’s health, well-being, or safety was compromised by your actions during the affair, your suitability as a parent may be questioned.
If the relationship still exists, it can have a bigger impact on child placement. If you will be living with the person, certain safety factors will be considered. Negative traits that can affect the lives of your children will be addressed by the court. Some things that might change the determination include the following.
In any divorce situation, the court uses the safety of the children as the top determining factor for placement. Any factors that undermine the physical or mental health of your children will change the court’s view about your ability to be the main caregiver. Every choice can directly affect your children’s lives. It is important not to make uninformed decisions during a divorce,
Laws vary widely from state to state. The court weighs each case individually to make the best decision. Divorce is an emotionally charged situation. It is important to contact an attorney who knows all of the laws regarding divorce, custody, and visitation rights. A lawyer can assess your individual situation and answer all of your questions.
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