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Child Custody

"The best way to make children good
is to make them happy."

Oscar Wilde, author and poet

New York courts have the power to determine custody of children and to award “access” or parenting time. Where and how and by whom will your child be raised?

What will your role be in making decisions about your child’s future? These issues are decided “in the best interest of the child,” giving broad discretion to the Court, and, therefore, to parties seeking to settle these issues.

We counsel parents through the often exceptionally emotionally exhausting process of planning how, after divorce, they will raise their children from separate homes. When good-faith negotiation has failed, we have tried many difficult custody cases, including those challenging the relocation of a parent’s residence with the child, allocation of parenting time, and the determination of each parent’s decision-making rights and responsibilities.

We discourage custody battles in court, as parents working cooperatively can almost always arrive at a better resolution for their children than a court can. When that cooperative resolution is not possible, we approach custody litigation exactly as we do a trial of other issues: with the most thorough preparation and the most realistic assessment of likely outcomes.

Child custody is divided into two parts:

  • Physical custody (or "residential custody") is where the child primarily resides
  • Legal custody involves decision making surrounding the health, education and general welfare of the child

Any arrangement of the above is possible by agreement. It is even possible for one parent to have sole physical custody and the other to have sole legal custody, or for one party to have sole physical custody with joint legal custody. Generally, any agreement the parties reach as co-parents would be better than anything imposed by a stranger, aka "The Judge.", who clearly does not know the parties and will not have a lasting involvement in raising the children.

Here are just a few of the situations in which we can help you:

  • Enforcement by a noncustodial parent of a visitation agreement
  • Relocation, moving and international custody issues
  • Modification of the parenting plan by a noncustodial parent
  • Modification of a visitation schedule by a parent with full or primary custody
  • Grandparents seeking visitation rights with their grandchildren
  • Protecting the rights of non-biological parents in same-sex couples

Who will get custody of your child is not a foregone conclusion. Simply because you're a father doesn't mean you can't get custody of your child, and just because you're a mother does not mean you will automatically get custody of your child. You need an experienced, knowledgeable attorney to help you achieve your goals.

It is a common misconception that courts will impose joint custody on parents in New York state; they will not. Joint custody is an arrangement made between the parents to jointly agree on all issues concerning the health, education and general welfare of the child. In New York, it is not something that will be imposed by the courts upon hostile parties.

Joint custody is a viable option only if the parents have an amicable relationship and can communicate well in matters that affect the child. If the parents are not on friendly enough terms, chances are that the joint decision-making required in "joint custody" will result in more disagreements and conflict. In that case, the court will select one parent to be the sole decision maker, who will have what is referred to as "legal custody" of the child.

Our knowledge and skill in the child custody arena is unquestioned. We take to trial only those cases in which we believe litigation is the best option. For those cases where trial may not be appropriate, we will counsel you and diligently work to negotiate an amicable resolution that will best satisfy your needs and desires. You can be assured that when we do accept a case, we will do whatever it takes, within the full extent of the law, to pursue the desired and best result.

We work with you to set reasonable, realistic expectations about the outcome of your case. If an investigation is required, we consult private investigators who can uncover important information relevant to the habits and lifestyle of the other parent. If necessary, we may ask a psychologist or social worker to evaluate the mental health of a parent or child, provide a home evaluation and even assist in the preparation for trial.

Seeking emergency temporary child custody may be appropriate under the following circumstances:

  • If you believe your "ex" is going to relocate with your child without your permission or the court's consentyour "ex" is going to relocate with your child without your permission or the court's consent
  • If you notice signs of abuse or neglect by the other parent
  • If the child is in imminent danger while under the care of the other parent

Our law firm can help you understand the process of seeking emergency temporary child custody to protect your child. We know how to proceed quickly in these cases to ensure the child's safety, as well as block these applications if they are used against you and are predicated upon false allegations, simply because a spouse or partner is trying to gain leverage in a custody or divorce action.