Child Custody

New York Child Custody

Custody is likely to be at the top of the list of issues to determine in a divorce if there are children of the marriage.

No parent wants to see their children suffer due to a marriage breakup. But what’s best for the children means different things to different people, so agreeing on child custody can bring up major issues in any divorce.

In the majority of cases, parents can agree on a workable custody and parenting arrangement that allows them both to spend time with the children and contribute to making decisions that affect them. Sometimes, however, court intervention is required.

Whether you reach a child custody settlement through negotiation or litigation, a child custody lawyer at the Law Offices of Mona R. Millstein can help you and your family move forward in the best interest of your children.

Types of Child Custody in New York

There are two types of custody in divorce proceedings.

  1. Physical custody refers to who the child lives with and spends time with.
  2. Legal custody refers to the decision-making aspect relating to the child’s upbringing, e.g., education, religion, medical matters, social activities, and so on.

Joint physical custody means that both parents spend approximately equal time with the child. Primary physical or residential custody means that child will reside most of the time with one parent but the other parent enjoys reasonable parenting time/access rights. Sole custody generally means that the custodial parent has the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, but the non-custodial parent generally still has certain parenting time/access rights.

Temporary Custody

If you and your spouse cannot agree on child custody after the divorce action has been commenced, the first item on a judge’s agenda may likely be determining an appropriate parenting plan while the divorce action is pending. A judge may also appoint an attorney for the child to represent them during the litigation. In certain cases, a mental health forensic expert is also appointed to evaluate the family.

In most cases, parents come to a workable agreement to avoid unnecessary upheaval to everyday life for their children.

The temporary custody arrangement often applies for the duration of the divorce process until the couple reaches an acceptable permanent written agreement or a judge orders it as part of the final divorce judgment.

How Do New York Courts Determine Child Custody?

Child custody issues are taken extremely seriously by judges in New York City. The consequences of their decisions are such that lives can be changed forever. Many factors are assessed and weighed up before custody determinations are made.

The best interests of the child is the standard used in determining custody and several factors are often recognized in making that determination such as the child’s stability to minimize disruption and the outcome that provides the best possible chance for the child’s future wellbeing. Depending on the circumstances of the case, a Court may consider any number of the following factors:

  • Family history including the relationship between the child and each parent and each parent’s history of caring for the child on a day to day basis
  • The quality of the existing home environment
  • The parenting skills of each parent and their ability to provide for the children
  • The mental and physical status of each parent
  • The preferences of the child (if mature enough to express a preference)
  • The relationships between siblings
  • The parents’ willingness to cooperate in the co-parenting of the child and respect for the other parent’s right to be with the child
  • Any history of abuse in the family
  • Criminal records or substance addictions

Other factors may be considered with child custody decisions. The help of a child custody attorney can be invaluable when making your case for the custody arrangement you seek.

Child Relocation

A parent may desire to relocate with a child either during a divorce proceeding or subsequent to a divorce judgment for a myriad of reasons including remarriage, economic betterment, or a change of employment. It is important to understand the rules regarding relocation in New York to avoid violating the terms of your custody order.

A relocation, therefore, is generally no simple matter, especially if it causes major disruption to the child’s life.  Any court order will be issued only with careful consideration of all the major factors involved in the relocation. 

The assistance of an experienced child support lawyer can help you make the case.

Hire a Child Custody Lawyer in New York City

At The Law Offices of Mona R. Millstein, we have helped many parents obtain the child custody orders they seek for the good of their families after a divorce.

Start with a case evaluation with an experienced divorce attorney who can advise you on your legal rights and the recommended next steps.


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