New York child custody law is complex, and child custody proceeding are often full of unpleasant surprises for parents who elect to go it alone, without the help of a skilled and experienced Family Court lawyer.
In the state of New York, child custody law can be particularly challenging because the framework for the proceedings is heavily reliant on the body of case law, rather than the use of statutes to guide judges in their rulings. There is also a high degree of subjectivity and imprecision. This is due to the unique nature of child custody cases. Rather than attempting to piece together incidents that have already taken place in order to establish guild or innocence, the Family Courts attempt to look into the future to establish what situation will best serve the interests of children.
This predictive task is far from perfect, and it often leads to heavy reliance of such evidence as that which established patterns of past behavior and the ability of parents to effectively interact with their children. By their very nature, proceedings on this kind often lead to very personal encounters with opposing lawyers, case workers and judges.
For these reasons, it is extremely important that, if you want to maximize your chances of enjoying a favorable outcome in a child custody hearing, you should always hire a competent and experienced lawyer that specializes in these types of cases.
The number of factors that the judge is likely to be closely examining in making their decision in your case are too many to even begin to list. And in many cases, there will be little that you can do to change factors that may weigh against you. An example of this would be if there were ever a police call placed to your home for domestic violence.
However, there are many other factors over which you and your legal team can exert significant control. Things such as how you present yourself in court can make a decisive difference in child custody cases. One way in which you can assure a good presentation before the court is by having a lawyer handle all courtroom interactions, speaking for you most of the time. A good lawyer can also help you to mitigate the potential negative effects of things such as your interviews with state employees, any criminal convictions you may have had that could weigh on the court’s decision and making sure that your overall living situation appears in as positive a light as possible to the court.
While there are statutes that directly govern the operation of Family Courts, such as Domestic Relations Law 70, most of the controlling law for the Family Courts of New York comes from the body of relevant case law. This case law is both vast and complex, requiring someone who has spent many years specializing in the field to fully understand how best to use the precedents that the court will refer to in order to maximize your chances of a desirable outcome.
The truth is that, if the opposing parent in the custody hearing has hired competent legal counsel and you haven’t, there is very little chance that you will prevail with anything resembling a satisfactory outcome. It is, therefore, imperative to get a skilled and experienced lawyer working in your corner.
Any time you enter a child custody proceeding, understand that there is a chance that you could not only lose custody of your child, you could even lose your visitation rights. Hiring a good lawyer is the best move you could make.