Child Custody Decisions in New York

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 Do Children Come First in Child Custody Laws?

Yes, children are the first concern with any issues related to child custody laws. A child custody determination is one of the most important decisions courts have to make regarding family law issues.

The laws governing child custody can be complex. In addition, state laws can vary by jurisdiction.

Deciding the child custody rights of a child or children must be done carefully because these decisions may have profound impacts on a child, which can last for long periods of time, even their entire life. When determining child custody rights, child custody laws put the child’s background and interests before the parent’s personal preferences.

This is the child’s best interest standard, which is the standard used to make determinations related to child custody. This means that a court will only make a child custody decision when it benefits the child.

Therefore, if a parent is considering how to get custody of their child or become a custodial parent, they must put the child’s best interests first, as this is what the court will do during a custody hearing. Child custody is an important determination, and the more a parent understands child custody rights, the more efficient the process will be for them.

What are the Factors to Consider for Child Custody?

When a court is determining child custody in family court, it will consider a wide range of factors that may affect the child’s well-being. The factors will be balanced against the child’s best interest standard to ensure that the custody decision does not harm or negatively affect the child in any way.

Common custody factors which are used by a court in a divorce or legal separation context may include:

  • The history and interactions of each parent with the child;
  • If one parent has been the primary caretaker of the child;
  • The child’s background and adjustment to their:
    • home;
    • school; and
    • neighborhood;
  • The mental and physical health of the child, as well as the parents;
  • Whether the child has any specific needs, such as:
    • health needs;
    • medical needs; or
    • psychological and emotional needs;
  • The wishes of the parents. If both of the parents agree to a particular custody arrangement, the court will usually choose that arrangement;
  • The child’s wishes. If the parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, the courts will give strong weight to the child’s preferences;
  • The overall preferences of the child, especially if they are above a certain age, which may vary by state.

For example, if a child has special medical needs, a court will factor this issue into their determination with regard to custody. In some cases, one parent may be more familiar with the needs of the child and, therefore, may be granted more custody rights than the other parent.

What are the Factors That Courts Cannot Use to Decide Child Custody?

When determining child custody, there are certain factors that a court cannot consider. This may be because of other related laws, such as discrimination laws, which interact with child custody laws and must be followed.

Factors that a court is not permitted to use when making a custody determination include:

A court cannot make a custody determination based upon whether one parent is of a certain race or if they are dating an individual of a certain race. Racial background is not usually factored into custody decisions unless it can be demonstrated that considering race may benefit the child.

A court is not typically allowed to base a child custody arrangement on religious issues or preferences. However, there may be exceptions in cases where a child is being harmed or placed in danger because of certain religious practices.

Family courts traditionally awarded child custody to the mother, because it was assumed that the mother was the primary caretaker. This, however, has changed in recent years, and courts will now focus on a broader set of factors to determine child custody and custodial parent arrangements.

Because a parent has a legally-recognized disability, it does not automatically prevent them from obtaining child custody. Instead, a court will examine whether the disability would prevent the child from performing their parental duties if they were granted custody.

Are Courts More Likely to Award Child Custody to the Mother?

As previously noted, in the past, courts were more likely to grant custody or the majority of the custody right to the mother because it was presumed that the mother was better suited to care for the children.

This concept was based on societal notions and stereotypes which existed in previous decades. These notions, however, have been rejected by courts in most jurisdictions.

Instead, a parent’s custody rights will be examined on a case-by-case basis, meaning that the court will examine each individual custody case in order to determine the ideal custody arrangement. Again, these determinations will be made using the child’s best interest standard instead of notions regarding which gender is better suited to raise a child.

Child Custody for Fathers: How can a Father Get Full Custody of His Child?

There are a variety of questions that may arise related to the custody rights of a father. A father may have questions such as:

  • Can a father take their child or children away from their mother?;
  • What are the chances of a father getting full custody of their child?;
  • How does a father obtain full custody of their child?;
  • Can a father take his child?;
  • How does a father get custody of their child or children?; and
  • How does a father get full custody?.

A custody battle for a father can be challenging. Although most courts have discarded older notions that a mother is the better-suited caregiver, many individuals in society still hold on to these types of notions.

How are Child Custody Decisions Made in New York?

If the parents in a child custody case cannot reach an agreement, a court in New York will make a custody decision based on what is in the best interest of the child.

What Does the New York Court Consider When Assigning Custody?

When determining which parent will have primary custody, a court will usually consider the following:

  • The physical and emotional health of the parents;
  • Evidence of child abuse and child neglect;
  • The availability of the parents to take care of the child;
  • The home environment of both parents;
  • Who has been the primary caretaker if the responsibilities of the parents are different;
  • One parent’s willingness to encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent;
  • The preferences of the child if it’s mature enough to make its wishes known; and
  • An agreement between the parents.

What Happens When the Court Has Made a Decision?

Once the court has made a determination, a custody order is signed by the judge and filed with the court clerk. Both of the parents are bound by the custody order.

If either of the parents do not adhere to the terms of the custody order, either parent may bring the issue in front of the court either for enforcement or modification.

Should I Contact a New York Lawyer Regarding My Custody Issues?

It is essential to have the assistance of a New York child custody lawyer for any issues, questions, or concerns you may have related to child custody issues in New York. Your lawyer can advise you regarding New York laws, assist you in obtaining custody of your child or children, and represent you when you have to appear in court.

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