Fostering Healthy Relationships With Your Children Through Difficult Family Changes
Few things in life are more frightening than not knowing what is going to happen with your parental rights when you are involved in a custody dispute. The best outcomes are achieved when you know what is happening and why at all times.
At the DeRoberts Law Firm, attorney Jeffrey DeRoberts provides compassionate, personalized attention throughout your child custody dispute, making sure you are fully aware of what is going on at every step of the way. He will help you to keep the best interests of your children at the forefront of complex disputes. Mr. DeRoberts will take time to understand your family dynamics and needs before suggesting a plan of action.
DeRoberts Law Firm is trusted for its wide spectrum of knowledge and experience in providing effective solutions in family court cases to thousands of individuals and families for reasonable fees. We will make your family transition from divorce or separation as seamless and comfortable as possible. Our focus is doing everything possible to protect the bonds you have with your children.
Understanding “Best Interest Of The Child” Factors
If you and your spouse cannot agree to a custody arrangement for your children following divorce or separation, the family court judges do their best to award custody based on what they believe will be best for your child’s future. Judges will base their decisions on information such as:
- Which parents provided the most care and nurture of the child prior to the divorce or splitting up of the parents?
- What are the work schedules of the parents?
- Do either of the parents have a criminal background?
- Have there been incidents of physical or mental abuse?
- Will one parent provide a more stable and safe environment than the other parent?
- What is the physical and mental health of the parent seeking custodial rights?
- Are there other siblings, and where do they live?
- What are your child’s preferences (depending on the age of your child)?
- What are the benefits and disadvantages of awarding custody to either of the parents?
It is of the utmost importance that you get an experienced family law attorney who knows what facts judges are likely to weigh heavily as well as how to present those facts in the light most favorable to the best interests of your child. We have been very successful in persuading family courts that giving custody to our clients is in the best interest of their children.
Determining The Right Custody Arrangement For Your Child
New York has several options for awarding or dividing the custodial rights of parents involved in custodial disputes. These determinations are highly fact-based, and judges are allowed to consider any information deemed relevant in awarding custody. This means the attorney more savvy and skilled at persuading family court judges with favorable facts will have a significant impact on the future structure of your family. Some of the custodial options New York family law judges consider include:
- Joint custody – This type of custody is highly favored by the courts. Joint custody is when each of the parents has a share of the physical and legal custody of the child. Joint custody does not usually mean equal physical custody. Most of these arrangements award one parent the child in one of the homes more often. Syracuse courts generally favor joint custody so that both parents are allowed to participate in the upbringing of the child.
- Sole custody – The laws of New York do not favor awarding sole custody to either of the parents. The courts only use their discretion to award sole custody when one of the parents demonstrates that awarding joint custody would be harmful to the best interests of the child.
- Third-party custody – Sometimes third parties (usually a grandparent, aunt or sibling) are awarded custody of a child. For a third party to be awarded custody to someone they are not the biological parent of, they must convince the court that it is not in the best interest of the child for either parent to have custody.
Updating Child Custody Orders
Establishing a custody and visitation arrangements are only the first steps in what can be a long and confusing process, especially if you and your spouse cannot agree on matters. As time passes, both the needs and abilities of parents and children change. It is not uncommon for visitation schedules to be modified based on your family’s evolving needs.
Many parents believe that the easiest way to modify a visitation schedule is simply to work it out internally between each other. However, this approach is not advisable because without a court-ordered, written child visitation arrangement, enforcement becomes exceedingly difficult should the parents ever disagree about its provisions.
Custody agreements are always constructed so that the best interests of the child are met. The first step in attempting to modify an existing order is to petition the court asking for a modification. The court usually requires a showing that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that prevents one or both parents from complying with the current arrangement. Common reasons include relocation, remarriage, and a change in work schedules or the child’s own preferences if the child is of a sufficient age and maturity.
It is a common misconception that the custodial parent can withhold visitation privileges if the noncustodial parent refuses to pay child support. This is not true. Neither parent is allowed to interfere with the other parent’s right to adequate visitation time. If visitation becomes dangerous due to things such as child abuse or neglect or drug or alcohol abuse, you may petition the court for an emergency modification that is designed to keep the child safe.
Under New York law, grandparents are also entitled to adequate visitation time and may petition the court if visitation is denied or restricted. The court will evaluate the grandparent’s relationship with both the child and parent(s) to determine if court-ordered visitation is in the best interests of the child.
It is important to consult an experienced visitation attorney to discuss your options and ensure that your case is handled efficiently and skillfully. The DeRoberts Law Firm has been helping families with child visitation modifications for more than 25 years and is committed to helping you through each step of the process.