Answers to three common questions about the child custody process in New York.
Divorce can be a difficult process, and navigating child custody in New York can be especially daunting for families. While divorce can bring feelings of resentment and stress to the surface, families that are properly prepared for dealing with child custody can move through the process quicker and smoother. In this post we cover three common questions that come up during custody and divorce proceedings in our office.
Question #1: Does custody go to just one parent? In New York, custody can go to one or both parents depending on the details of the case. During a custody proceeding, the court can award partial custody to both parents, which is called “joint custody.” There are several forms of joint custody that the court can implement depending on the case. “Joint physical custody” means that the child can spend time with both parents, while “joint legal custody” lets both parents weigh in on important matters regarding their child, such as religious and educational decisions. In New York, neither parent should get a preferred right to have custody. The court needs to make decisions based upon the best needs of the child.
Question #2: Who decides visitation in a New York child custody case? The answer varies depending on which parent has custody of the child. If one parent has physical custody, then he or she has more decision-making power in how much visitation is allowed. However the other parent is entitled to “frequent and meaningful” visitation, so long as it is in the best interest of the child. One of the best things parents can do is establish a parenting plan that details everything from visitation dates and durations to holidays and overnight stays. This makes visitation clearer for the whole family and helps to avoid disputes in the future.
Questions #3: How does the court decide who gets custody of the child? New York courts give first priority to the physical and mental well-being of the child when making custody decisions. This can include assessing the parents’ physical and financial health, the parents’ lifestyles and employment, the child’s day-to-day living standards, and the impact custody will have on the child. The court can also listen to the child’s wishes and take that into consideration when making a decision. There are many details – from the child’s ago to where each parent is living – that need to be considered when deciding custody in Family Court in Queens. It’s helpful to work with an attorney with child custody and family law experience who can help families go through the specific factors that could affect the court’s decision.
There are many other questions that can arise during the divorce and custody process in Queens. Do you need to allow visitation if the ex-spouse stops paying alimony? What happens if one spouse moves out during the divorce? How about same sex couples with children? These are all important questions that parents should ask when faced with child custody. And most importantly, parents cannot see custody and visitation as weapons to be used against their spouse. Just as the New York courts work in the best interest of the child, so should the parents.