Child Custody

Children are undoubtedly the victims of divorce.  The upsets and problems that may have been responsible for the breakup of a marriage are felt doubly hard by the children.  So it is not hard to understand that it is the position of the courts that any arrangement regarding custody and support always be “in the best interests of the child(ren).”

Child custody attorney Malcolm Babel

If parents can come to a positive and mutually beneficial agreement regarding care and support of the children, this is the best.

In New York, there is joint custody and sole custody. But there is also two parts to custody – legal custody, which is the right to make decisions for the child or children and physical custody, where they will live.

What do courts think when they decide what’s best for a child?  What is in the “best interests of the child” in any given case depends on many factors, including:

  • The child’s age, sex, and mental and physical health.
  • The mental and physical health of the parents.
  • The parent’s lifestyle including smoking, drinking, and any history of child abuse or domestic violence.
  • Which parent has been the primary nurturer of the child.
  • The employment schedules of each parent.
  • The child care plans of each parent.
  • The emotional connection between parent and child.
  • The parents’ ability to provide the child with support, to wit: food, clothing, shelter, and medical assistance.
  •  The preference of the child, depending on the child’s age, which is usually around 12.
  •  The quality of the child’s present education.
  •  The parenting skills of each parent.
  •  The child’s relationship with other members of immediate family, including brothers and sisters.
  •  The parent’s ability to cooperate with the other parent and to encourage a relationship with the other parent.
  • The child’s established living arrangements, to wit: school, community, religious facilities.

Here is some further frequently asked questions:

What is custody?
Custody can be legal custody which is the right to make decisions for a child or it can be physical or residential custody, which is where a child will reside.

 How long does child custody last?
Eighteen, unless child emancipated by marriage, military, etc.

What is the difference between sole custody and joint custody? 
In sole custody, one parent alone makes all the major decisions. In joint custody, both parents make all major decisions concerning education, health and religion together. And the parent who has physical custody makes the day to day decisions.

Do courts favor the mother over the father? 
The law says custody is determined by what is in the best interests of the child.  It is gender neutral. See the above factors that are considered.

Does domestic violence impact on custody?
It is an important factor in deciding custody, whether committed in the child’s presence or not. It does not have to be only physical violence.

If one parent has sole custody, can the other parent visit with the child?
The parent who doesn’t have custody can visit with the child, usually unsupervised. If there are serious concerns about the parent’s ability, such as improper behavior or domestic violence, the visitation may be supervised (in the presence of a third party).

Can a child be given an attorney?
The court may appoint an Attorney for the Child (previously known as a Law Guardian) to represent the child.

Is the court assisted by any experts in determining child custody?
A forensic evaluator may be appointed by the court to interview the parents, children and others and report to the court about his findings.

Again, for the sake of the children and all involved, I work to help my clients get quickly through these issues and work for a settlement.

To make a no-obligation appointment or just to talk to me, please call (718) 309-5662 any time, 7 days a week, from 10 am to 10 pm.