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In New York, child custody laws are designed to be in the best interest of the children involved. There are many guidelines when determining what exactly is in the best interest of a child. Understanding how New York law determines this can help when deciding how to proceed with a case.

New York Child Custody Laws
New York law at one time assumed the mother was always the better parent and should have custody. Custody laws in New York are different today. Neither parent is now automatically assumed to be the better custodial parent. A father in New York can now get custody of his children. The custody of children is now determined on an individual case by case basis. Custody of children can be decided based on the individual status of the parents getting a divorce. This is also the case if a couple has not been married but did have children together. Parental marriage is not a major factor when determining child custody in New York.

Types of Child Custody
In the state of New York, there are various types of child custody.

*Joint Custody – Both parents share custody. A schedule of time with each parent is decided by the parents or the court.

*Physical Custody – This is when a child resides with one parent. The other parent is considered the non-custodial parent and will have a schedule created for visitation.

*Sole Custody – In this situation, only one parent is given custody of the child.

*Legal Custody – This is a situation where one or both parents are responsible for making important decisions concerning the child. This could involve religious issues, education, medical issues and more. It may also only involve the court giving only one parent the authority to make the final decision concerning these issues.

Best Interest Of The Child
The most important factor for a New York court for determining child custody is what is in the best interests of the child. New York custody laws have certain criteria used to determine what this is in each custody case.

*Length of time a child has been living with either parent
*Physical and mental health as well as the financial stability of each parent
*Location that has been the child’s primary residence
*Presence or absence of domestic partners each parent’s household
*Any special needs of the child a parent is better able to handle when compared to the other
*A parent’s ability to assist with a child’s religious upbringing and beliefs
*The presence of domestic violence in a parent’s household
*The work schedule of each parent
*If siblings are involved as New York courts want siblings to be together
*If a strong bond exists between the parent and child
*The parenting skills of each parent
*The home environment of each parent and more

Shared Physical Custody And Child Support
Under the Child Supports Standards Act of New York, child support must be paid by a non-custodial parent to a custodial parent. This amount will be determined by the formula used by the state. Should the parents have an equal 50/50 split of physical custody, there is a way to determine which parent must pay child support. The parent with the higher income will be determined to be the non-custodial parent. They will be required to pay the other parent child support. Parents do have the option to agree to sign a contract so the requirement of child support from one another is eliminated.

Grandparents
Custody and rights for visitation are not automatically granted to grandparents in New York. It is possible for one or more grandparent to file a Petition so a court can grant them visitation or custody. It is rare for a grandparent to be awarded custody over a parent. It can also be a challenge for a grandparent to obtain a schedule of visitation from a court. It does happen, but it is not easy.

Preparing For Custody Trial
Prior to trial, each parent should know what the other is requesting for support as well as custody. They should each have evidence ready to prove their case. It is important parents seeking custody make every effort to conduct themselves properly during the trial. It is a parent’s best interest to make a good impression on the Judge deciding their case.

There is no legally specified age where a court will consider a child’s preferences when it comes to custody. The older the child, the more likely their preference may be taken into consideration. When it comes to determining custody, a court will be looking at the totality of the circumstances of the child and parents. A New York lawyer will know what is involved with child custody. They will know the law and how to best present a parent’s case before a court to obtain the desired result.

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