If you find yourself at the mercy of a child custody proceeding in the state of New York, the single best thing that you can do is hire a competent and experienced lawyer to fight on your behalf. Child custody law in New York is a complex patchwork of statutory laws and existing case law, making it one of the more challenging areas in which to practice. On top of this, judges in the Family Courts, the competent jurisdiction for all child custody battles in the state, are granted broad leeway to interpret the unique facts of the case before them. This makes the Family Courts and child custody hearings far more subjective and potentially difficult to navigate than other areas of the law.
However, a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer with a strong grasp of the relevant case law can give you the edge you need to prevail. The most important thing when entering a child custody hearing is to have a set of well-defined goals and a game plan to reach them. With the right lawyer, this can usually be achieved.
Joint custody can be difficult to obtain in New York
In New York State, there are two types of custody that can be awarded. The first is referred to as physical custody. This is granted to the parent with whom the child will spend the majority of their time living. Although it is rare for joint physical custody to be granted, due to the fact that parents coming through the Family Court system are rarely living together, this does not mean that one parent will have a monopoly over the child residing with them. The parent who is not granted physical custody will almost always have visitation rights established by the court. These can be significant, including two or even three days each week where the child resides with the non custodial parent.
The other form of custody is legal custody. This involves the ability of parents to make or veto any important decision affecting the life of the child. These decisions include but are not limited to questions of religion, education or healthcare. Legal custody is the type that is most often shared in the form of joint custody.
Unfortunately, if your goal is to obtain joint custody in the state of New York, you already have the deck stacked heavily against you by the very act of showing up in Family Court. This is because joint custody in New York State allows a parent absolute veto power over any decision the other parent takes. The Family Courts have traditionally shied away from granted joint custody in any cases where there has been demonstrated animosity or contention. This is done to avoid deadlocking every decision that must be taken on behalf of the child.
Still, even if you are not granted joint custody of your child, that does not mean that you are disenfranchised from important decisions regarding their life. Any time a decision is made that may have a negative affect on the child or may not be in their best interest, a petition can be made to the Family Court to review that decision. If it is deemed that the decision of the custodial parent is deleterious to the child’s well being, then the court will issue an injunction, nullifying the decision.
A good lawyer can give you the edge
The Family Courts of New York form a complex and difficult area of the law. A good lawyer with the knowledge and expertise of hundreds of successful cases can give you the edge you need to prevail.