Throughout the state of New York, the Family Court is the competent jurisdiction in all matters of child custody. While it is always best to handle child custody disputes amicably, between the parents, in many cases, it simply becomes impossible for the legal guardians to satisfactorily work out a custody arrangement. At that point, the parents generally turn to the Family Court system.
In New York State, child custody law is mostly comprised of precedents set in the body of relevant case law. This makes this area of law practice quite complex and unusually subjective, as most rulings involve extensive interpretation of law by the presiding judge rather than a straightforward following of statutory language.
In addition to this, judges in Family Court are usually given unusually wide latitude in the decisions they hand down. This is due to the recognition that every case involving child custody is very unique. Because of this view of the child custody process requiring a high degree of subjectivity, appeals courts have traditionally given great respect to the decisions of Family Court judges. This means that, for all practical purposes, the ruling of a Family Court judge is absolute and final.
There are two broad categories of child custody. The first is physical, also known as residential custody. As the name implies, this is the custody granted to the parent with which the child primarily lives. In almost all cases, barring extreme disqualifying factors, the parent without physical custody will be permitted a regular visitation schedule to see the children. This may include the children staying at the non-custodial parents home, even multiple nights each week.
The second category of custody is legal custody. This primarily refers to a parent’s right to take part in decisions affecting the child’s well-being. The major decisions that usually fall under custodial consideration are those concerning religion, medical care and education. When parents are granted joint legal custody, this gives either parent absolute veto power over the other. Because this leads quickly to situations of deadlock in cases where the parents cannot get along with each other, the court will usually only award joint legal custody to parents who are on amicable terms.
This means that one parent is frequently denied legal custody. When this happens, it does not mean that the non-custodial parent has forfeited all rights to participate in their child’s upbringing. However, future major decisions will most often need to be routed through the Family Court. These issues can quickly become highly complex, and any parent facing them should always hire competent legal counsel.
There are a large number of factors that the court takes into account when considering whether or not to grand a parent sole legal or physical custody. Some of these may include:
These are just some of the factors that may decisively sway the judge in one direction or the other. However, this is a far from comprehensive list. You should always seek the counsel of an experienced attorney.
In many instances, the primary individuals who fight for the custody of a child are the child’s biological parents. However, there may be instances when another family member, such as a grandparent, aunt or uncle, is seeking custody. Child custody issues can also develop through adoption and foster care situations. You understandably feel passionately about the care of the child in your life, and you may be eager to obtain custody of that child or to ensure that you retain custody. Child custody matters are often stressful situations for all involved, and you need all of the help that you can get to ensure that your rights are protected and to fight for the best interest of the child. Hiring a Manhattan child custody lawyer to assist you with your case is an essential step to take.
Seeking Legal Assistance for Child Custody Issues
If you have decided to seek custody of a child who someone else currently has legal custody of at this time, you need to have a clear understanding about what your rights are as well as when custody can legally be taken away from the other person. On the other hand, you may have legal custody of the child, and you may be threatened by someone trying to strip you of custody for any number of reasons. New York has detailed child custody laws that may be difficult to understand at times. Before you can decide how to act to protect your interests and the interests of the child, you need to learn more about how the state’s laws relate to your case. Hiring a Manhattan child custody law may be a smart idea at this time. Your lawyer will be your advocate and legal representative through mediations, contract negotiations and court appearances. Remember that a lawyer who specializes in this unique area of the law may have a better understanding of recent case law and may have proven strategies for using case law advantageously.
Understanding Your Rights
If you are a legal custodian or a biological parent without custody at this time, you likely have rights under New York’s laws. However, there are instances when these rights may not be enforced or when they may be stripped from you. If you are trying to seek custody in Manhattan, you may need to prove that the current custodian is not fit to raise the child and that you are. Child custody matters are often not addressed overnight. They may involve several different court appearances, visitations from court-appointed officials and more. Throughout this process and regardless of which side of the proceedings you stand on, you must understand your rights. More than that, you need to understand how the law can be used to protect the best interests of the child.
Pursuing Various Legal Options
Each child custody matter is unique, so there is not one specific approach that works well in all situations. A Manhattan child custody lawyer has profound understanding about this specific niche of the law. Through this expertise, your lawyer can help you to determine what the options are, and he or she can explain to you the critical steps that must be followed to pursue each option. It is important to understand before you begin the legal process what the likely outcome will be based on established law. In some cases, such as in a child custody case related to a divorce, custody may be equitably divided by both parents in a settlement arrangement that they agree to outside of the courtroom. However, many of these cases are emotionally-charged, and there may be little wiggle-room to come to an agreement outside of court. Your lawyer will represent you through all aspects of the case.
You understandably want to find the best possible living and custody arrangement for the child, and you may feel passionately that one specific arrangement is preferred for the child’s best interest. It may be best to be proactive and seek legal advice as soon as possible in cases like these. By doing so, you can ensure that you take steps that will support your intended outcome. Schedule a legal consultation with a child custody attorney today.