Custody is one of the most difficult issues to arise during a divorce. In most cases, each spouse will want what is best for his or her children, but what that is might be different depending on who you ask. Not to mention the divorces in which spiteful spouses use their children against one another.

To ensure children are protected in a divorce, the New York court system oversees issues related to child custody and support when a couple divorces. The court must approve any arrangement parents create and it will intervene if divorcing parents are unable to reach a decision on their own.

How Custody is Determined

The state makes every effort to encourage a joint custody arrangement, as long as it is in the best interest of the child. This means parents share physical and legal custody of a child. When joint custody is not the best option, the courts make an effort to ensure non-custodial parents are able to spend a reasonable amount of time with their children. Factors used to determine a custody arrangement in New York include:

  • Best interest of the child
  • Child’s wishes, depending on the child’s age
  • Whether one parent served as the primary caretaker during the marriage
  • History of domestic violence
  • Parents’ work schedules
  • Mental and physical health of each parent
  • Child’s relationship with each parent, as well as siblings and extended family
  • Each parent’s ability to encourage a relationship with the other parent
  • Parenting skills of each parent
  • Any special needs of a child

Parenting Time Plans

If the court determines it is in a child’s best interest to live primarily with one parent, a parenting time plan will be created. This ensures the non-custodial parent will have sufficient visitation time with his or her child. If necessary, parenting time is supervised in order to ensure the child is safe during the visit.

In most divorced families, non-custodial parents spend alternate weekends and one weeknight per week with their child. Holidays, birthdays, and school breaks are shared on an alternating basis. Families are free to create their own parenting time schedules, as long as they are deemed to be in a child’s best interest and fair to each parent based on the circumstances. The court also takes into account any out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, such as travel cost when a parent lives outside of the state. The courts will support and encourage a parent’s genuine efforts to maintain a strong and healthy relationship with their children. When it comes to parenting time, Quality time is good, but so is Quantity time.

Custody of children will also impact issues regarding child support and decision making regarding important issues relating to a child’s upbringing. The courts will insist that the children’s best interests are taken into account and that parents’ actions always keep this goal paramount in their relationship with their children and each other.

For more information, or if you believe your rights regarding custody and/or visitation have been questioned, we can help. To schedule a consultation, contact the Law Offices of Elan Wurtzel by calling 516.822.7866.

Source: NYS Courts Parenting Plan Form (included as a link in the document)