Having children is one of the greatest blessings of life. Spending quality time with them despite scheduling limitations is essential. Balancing a career and other responsibilities make things complicated. Add a divorce into the mix and your time with your child may be very limited. When ending a marriage, you need an experienced lawyer that has ample experience in dealing with child custody cases. You want the best arrangement possible that meets not only your needs but also the needs of the child.
Going through a divorce when children are involved means that there will be a visitation schedule, child support, and a detailed custody agreement. The court must approve any arrangement and ensure that it is for the best interests of the child. In previous times, the father was often overlooked, and the mother was favored as the primary custodial parent. However, things have certainly changed, and fathers are now viewed as equals in the parenting equation. Having a 50/50 shared parenting arrangement is more commonplace, but some father’s walk away with full custody these days.
The Best Interests of The Child
The court is faced with a difficult conundrum in a divorce situation, especially if it’s a bitter battle. They must make all arrangements for visitation and custody based on the best interest of the child. Each parent has their opinion of what’s best for their children, but the court must be biased in the situation. They look at several factors, and they may ask a Guardian Ad Litem to step in and be an advocate for the children. Together, they look at the following items:
1. Age and Grade Level of the child
2. Emotional or Medical Needs
4. The Financial Standing of Both Parents – Who Can Provide Best?
5. The Lifestyle of Both Mother and Father
6. Current Relationship and Attachments with Parents
7. The Child’s Wishes
8. Stability of Living Situations – Quality of Homelife and Set-up
9. School Districts and Grade Reports from Schools
10. The Parents Ability to Work With Each Other To Maintain A Good Relationship
In most cases in New York, one person will receive the title of custodial parent, and the other parent will receive visitation rights. While they may not have physical custody, they do have rights. The court can mandate a schedule to ensure it’s kept or they can allow the parents to work together. When the agenda is agreed upon in court, any change to that document must be submitted for the court to approve.
Common Issues with Child Custody Arrangements
In a perfect world, everyone would agree and try to maintain friendships for the sake of the child. Unfortunately, child custody and visitation schedules are often very contentious issues that are full of drama. Once the court has approved the agenda, neither parent has the right to alter that schedule without the court’s intervention.
It’s often observed that one parent will try to interfere with the visitation schedule in spite of the other parent. For instance, if one parent doesn’t pay their mandated child support payment, then the other parent may take their visitation as a punishment for the missed payments. It’s illegal for anyone to keep their child from the other parent unless there is a fear of danger and there is significant documentation to warrant it.
Even in that case, a new motion must be made before the court to alter the original arrangement, and the court must make the final decision. Anyone who violates any part of these court-mandated agreements is in violation and can be held in contempt.
Child visitation and custody matters are complicated, and they keep the court’s dockets full. It’s best to work together and come up with reasonable agreements before getting the court involved. However, when things are too complicated, and there is much contention, then having an experienced legal representative on your side is imperative. A Manhattan child custody and visitation attorney can help.
Marriage and relationships are supposed to last forever. However, happily ever after is in fairy tales. When a couple splits, deciding the custody of the children is a significant obstacle. If a couple cannot agree on who will be the sole custodian, then the judge must make that decision. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate through this complex area of the law. Making informed decisions requires you to know the basic terms and requirements in these types of cases.
Understanding Custody And Visitation
When it comes to child custody, it is one of the most heated matters in family law. Most families desire to find the best solution for their children. The wish is often confused with the strong emotional ties. Making such a serious decision can be difficult when it comes to matters regarding a child.
The state law governs rules regarding child custody. However, New York and every other state have some form of legal and physical custody. Some states call it “physical custody” while others call it “primary access.” In this area, any parent who has the child for 51 percent or more of the time is considered to have primary physical custody. The other parent has a right to visitation of the child. The only way visitation is not allowed is under the following conditions:
•Parent Has a History of Domestic Violence or Substance Abuse
•The Ability to Care For The Child Is In Question
•The Health, Safety or Well-Being of The Child Could Be Jeopardized
•The Health of The Child Requires Special Considerations
The custodial parent is the person with whom the child resides. The noncustodial parent receives visitation. The parties are free to make out their schedule if they can agree. If not, the court will issue a visitation order. Most schedules allow the noncustodial parent to have one weeknight per week as well as every other weekend visits. If the parties agree, the visitation times can be increased as the court allows. During summer and holiday breaks, the visitation times with the noncustodial parent are improved as well.
In some instances, supervised visitation is necessary. If the noncustodial parent poses a threat to the child or has never established a relationship, then the court may deem that someone watches over the visits. The visits can take place at a licensed facility in the presence of a third party, or they can occur at another location where both parents and the judge agree.
The child’s grandparents may also be awarded visitation. While their visits cannot interfere with the parent-child relationship, many judges are in favor of allowing these rights. A grandparent must show that it’s in the best interest of the child to see them regularly, especially if they had a significant role in the child’s life.
Getting Help With Visitation Issues
Visitation doesn’t always go the way it should. Many people like to take the law into their hands. If a person doesn’t pay child support, the other party may try to withhold their visitation to force them into paying. Any behavior of this nature is in direct violation of the law. Unpaid child support is not a grounds for not seeing a child. These matters should be handled by asking the court to impose enforcement of child support payments. Visitation is a joint rightof both parents. (Tanner v. Tanner, 826 N.Y.S.2d 503, 504)
If you find yourself in a battle of child custody or visitation, you need help. A legal representative from Spodek Law Group can help. With more than 40 years experience in the Manhattan area, we have helped many people through this challenging time.