Child custody can be one of the most difficult issues to resolve for both divorcing couples and unmarried parents who are no longer in a relationship. We know that your relationship with your children is the most important thing in your life, and we will help you find the best solution for your family.
At Aiello & DiFalco, we put the interest of your children first. We help our clients successfully settle, and if necessary, litigate custody and parenting time cases. We represent clients in drafting custody agreements and we handle contested custody matters that sometimes involve complicated issues like special needs children and domestic violence issues.
What is child custody and parenting time (visitation)?
In New York, child custody has two aspects:
- Physical custody or residential custody determines where the child will live and the visitation rights or parenting time of the non-custodial parent.
- Legal custody determines decision-making authority about the child’s health, education and welfare.
There are other terms used to refer to custody, which can sometimes lead to confusion. For example:
- Sole custody typically refers to decision-making authority, and that one parent makes all of the decisions for the child. That does not necessarily mean that the other parent does not have parenting time or visitation; they may even need to be consulted or at least notified about major decisions.
- Joint custody usually refers to decision-making as well. Parents who have joint custody need to consult and confer with each other regarding any major decisions affecting a child. If the parties cannot agree, they may need to consult with relevant professionals like a doctor or teacher to reach a decision. Sometimes one parent has final decision-making authority, or sometimes the parties each have a sphere of influence over certain categories of decisions.
Parenting time or visitation refers to the way parties allocate physical custody. The child usually spends most of their time, especially overnights, with the primary residential parent, called custodial parent. In some cases, the parties agree to share custody, which means that they have nearly equal parenting time and try to achieve 50/50 custody. Parenting time and visitation schedules need to address weekdays, alternating weekends, holidays, and school releases – all of which can be tailored to your family.
Joint legal custody with some form of liberal parenting time is the most common outcome in amicable cases. In cases where custody is more complicated and the parties cannot agree, our attorneys are prepared to advocate for your positions and help you achieve the best result for your children.
The best interests of your children
Before the courts get involved, neither parent has an automatic right to custody of their children – the courts recognize that mothers and fathers may have equal parental rights. Courts are empowered to determine custody where the parties cannot reach an agreement regarding the custody and parenting time of their children.
The courts always work in the best interests of the children and consider several factors when making custody determinations, including:
- The physical, emotional, and social needs of the children
- The parenting skills of each parent
- The mental and physical health of each parent
- The willingness of each parent to foster a close relationship between the children and the other parent
- The preferences of the children, depending on their age
- Any issues of domestic violence or substance abuse
Can child custody be modified?
A child custody order can be modified if either parent experiences a substantial change in circumstances. Some of the reasons to modify a child custody order include:
- A deterioration in the parties’ ability to co-parent
- A change in the parenting time schedule that would better serve the children
- The custodial parent’s relocation to another city or state for employment purposes
- The custodial parent’s refusal to make the child available for parenting time
- Abuse or neglect by either parent
- Alcohol or drug abuse by either parent
Once a substantial change of circumstances has been demonstrated, the court must determine that the modification is in the children’s best interests. We can help you develop the facts of your case to best present them to the court.
How our child custody lawyers can help you
We know that co-parenting arrangements can be difficult to achieve and very emotional at times. Our objective is to keep the best interest of your children first and help you arrive at a workable agreement about primary custody, visitation rights and parenting time.
We generally prefer to resolve child custody arrangements without court intervention, but we also successfully repressed our clients in custody hearings if necessary. We have tried complex custody cases spanning more than a hundred days of trial time. We prepare methodically for all of our custody trial cases and provide strategic representation based on a concrete understanding of the issues relevant to our clients’ cases.
Contact Our Child Custody Attorney Today!
With our child custody attorneys, you will have the peace of mind knowing that your parental rights and the well-being of your children are protected. We will provide you with compassionate and efficient representation and work to help you preserve the bonds with your children.
Contact our Garden City office to learn how we can help. We look forward to speaking with you.