Child Custody Lawyer in Staten Island, New York
In any divorce that involves children, issues of child custody and child visitation must be treated with extreme care and forethought. As a child custody attorney who also deals with post-divorce issues and cases involving child neglect, I have a unique perspective on the importance of working out sensible custody arrangements that serve the children’s best interests.
A child custody case can be one of the most emotionally charged legal matters imaginable, and I have worked hard to help my clients find solutions that maintain a healthy relationship with their children while also providing for their physical and financial needs.
In my experience, most divorcing mothers and fathers are sincerely concerned with the best interests of their children. This is also the priority of the family courts that make custody decisions — but there are a lot of subjective judgments to be made along the way. I encourage you to contact me for a helpful, supportive discussion of your child custody cases and visitation concerns.
Custody Includes Decision-Making Authority
As in all aspects of family law, planning is essential for child custody and child support. It is important to know that a custodial parent often has authority beyond providing residence for the children. He or she can also make most decisions about schooling, activities, religion, and other aspects of life — independent of the noncustodial parent’s input or wishes. The child’s other parent may be given visitation rights but will not have a say in these decisions. A family’s child custody agreement should be decided with care, considering the ages of the children involved and each parent’s ability to provide stability.
Of course, many couples are able to work out joint custody agreements that allow both parents to share in the decision-making process. These arrangements can take many different forms, and I am experienced in helping parents find solutions that work for their families. It may be necessary to ask for a court order to resolve disputed custody issues in some cases.
It is also important to remember that custody arrangements can always be modified in the future if circumstances change or if one parent is not abiding by the terms of the agreement. Modifications can be made through the court system or by coming to a new parenting agreement or visitation agreement outside of court.
Child custody law can be complex, and the stakes are high. If you are involved in a child custody dispute or need help modifying an existing arrangement, as a family law attorney, I encourage you to contact me for a consultation. I can help you understand your rights and options under the law and develop a strategy for protecting your relationship with your children.
Visitation Schedules Must Meet the Needs of the Children
The visitation schedule is an important part of any child custody arrangement. In many cases, it is the noncustodial parent’s only chance to spend quality time with their children. As such, it is important to ensure that the schedule meets the needs of the children as well as the parents.
In some cases, a traditional visitation schedule may not be possible or practical. I have experience working with families to develop creative solutions that meet their unique needs. Whether you are the custodial or noncustodial parent, I can help you develop a visitation schedule in your children’s best interests. The visitation terms custody agreement can always be modified in the future if circumstances change.
Enforcing Visitation Orders
Unfortunately, there are some cases in which one parent refuses to abide by a court-ordered visitation schedule. In these situations, it is important to take action to enforce the order and protect your rights as a parent. I can help you take the necessary legal steps to enforce a visitation order and ensure that you are able to spend time with your children as directed by the court.
Helping You Put Your Children First
No matter what your child custody or visitation issue may be, my goal is to help you find a solution in your children’s best interests. Both parties in a custody dispute need to be able to put their children’s needs ahead of their own, and I will work with you to help you reach this goal.
Considering Both Mothers’ and Fathers’ Rights
It is a mistaken assumption to believe that mothers always get child custody. I have successfully argued and won numerous custody cases for fathers as well as mothers. Although it is still not the norm, joint custody — with a range of implications on residential arrangements and decision making — is being granted in an increasing number of New York divorce cases. In addition, the court may give serious consideration to the stated wishes of children at the age of 14 or older. Children’s expressed preferences are only one factor to be considered by the court, but they can have significant weight, particularly as children get older.
When making custody determinations, New York courts must consider a number of factors set forth in Domestic Relations Law Section 240. These include:
- The ability of each parent to provide a stable home environment for the child
- The ability of each parent to meet the child’s physical and emotional needs
- The ability of each parent to provide for the child’s educational needs
- The ability of each parent to provide for the child’s medical needs
- Each parent’s history of involvement with the child
- Each parent’s willingness to facilitate a relationship between the child and the other parent
- The child’s relationship with siblings and other significant adults
- The child’s preference, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to form an intelligent preference
- Any history of domestic violence or child abuse
- The effect of any substance abuse by either parent
- Each parent’s mental and physical health
The court may also consider any other factors that it deems relevant to the custody determination. In some cases, one parent may have a clear advantage over the other in meeting the child’s needs. In other cases, the court may find that both parents are equally capable of meeting the child’s needs. In either situation, I can help you present your case to the court to give you the best chance of obtaining the custody arrangement you desire.
Seeking Sole Custody or Joint Custody
The terms “sole custody” and “joint custody” can be confusing, as they are often used to describe different aspects of child custody. In New York, there are two types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody.
Legal custody refers to the right of a parent to make decisions regarding the child’s welfare, including decisions about education, medical care, and religious upbringing. A parent with sole legal custody has the right to make these decisions without consulting the other parent. A parent with joint legal custody must consult the other parent before making decisions about the child, but both parents have an equal say in these decisions.
Physical custody refers to the right of a parent to have the child live with him or her. A parent with sole physical custody has the right to have the child live with him or her full-time. A parent with joint physical custody shares this right with the other parent, but the child does not necessarily spend equal time living with each parent. In many cases, the child will live primarily with one parent and visit the other parent on a regular basis.
A parent may have sole legal custody, joint legal custody, sole physical custody, joint physical custody, or any combination thereof. The best custody arrangement for the child depends on a number of factors, including the child’s age, the relationship between the child and each parent, and each parent’s work schedule. I can help you understand your custody options and make the best choices for your child.
Building Your Case for a Favorable Custody and Visitation Arrangement
In order to help either a mother or father pursue child custody and visitation priorities, I listen and ask appropriate questions to get a strong sense of the overall family situation. This can enable us to build a compelling case for what is most important to you. And what will enable you to play the role that you want to in the lives of your children?
Working with a compassionate, knowledgeable family lawyer can help you focus on your own needs, form realistic expectations about child custody and visitation — and get results. Please contact my Staten Island office for more information or arrange a free consultation if you are facing or considering a divorce involving children.