In the State of New York, all child custody cases are handled by the Family Court system. This court system is unique in many respects, with a number of characteristics that make it far different and more challenging that practicing in other areas of the law.
This is why the best lawyers to hire in child custody cases are those who specialize in that area of the law. Our lawyers have decades of experience handling child custody cases. We have the relevant case law knowledge, the litigation skills and the experience of what works and what doesn’t to give you the edge you need in your child custody hearing.
Unlike other areas of the law, the Family Courts are heavily reliant on case law. While there are some areas of statutory law, such as the New York Domestic Relations Laws, that inform the rules, procedures and range of permissible decisions in Family Court, the vast majority of what goes on there is bounded by the existing body of case law. This makes family law in the state of New York a particularly intricate and challenging area in which to practice.
A good lawyer with extensive experience and knowledge will be able to use the case law and the principles defined by it to position you in a way that maximizes your chances of prevailing in your child custody hearing.
When one parent moves, things can get tricky
If you are involved in a child custody situation where your ex-spouse has unilaterally decided to move a long distance away and take the kids with them, it is likely that your primary goal will be either to prevent them from moving far away or to gain sole custody of the child or children. The bad news is that these situations rarely have a constructive joint custody solution, where both parents can come to some sort of amicable agreement. This is particularly true when one spouse is leaving due to a job or other economic necessity.
On the other hand, the good news is that there is a high likelihood that you will be able to win joint custody, particularly if you can demonstrate that the other spouse is creating a situation that is threatening to interfere with your relationship with your children or that is violating either the letter or the spirit of prior Family Court rulings.
An expert child custody lawyer will be able to help you raise doubts in the eye of the court about the intent and the ability to parent of the party attempting to take the kids away. They will be able to present any evidence that may help your case, such as prior drug/e-liquid or alcohol abuse, any kind of behavior that may be construed as neglect or abuse and anything that may indicate that the other parent has been negligent. They will also be able to call expert witnesses to testify both for you and against the other parent, raising doubt as to the ability of the opposing parent to effectively carry out their parental duties.
And unlike in a criminal trial, where these things may be regarded as merely circumstantial, in the setting of Family Court, they may be considered dispositive by the judge, particularly if many such facts begin to accumulate that paint a negative picture of the opposing spouse’s parenting ability.
But most importantly, any long-distance move may be shown to be detrimental to the social lives, educational situation and even the mental health of the child or children involved. A lawyer who understands the process can often raise enough doubt for the moving spouse to be forced to either stay or relinquish custody.