New York City Child Custody Lawyer
Serving Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island
What happens to the children is often a difficult and contentious issue for spouses to work out in a divorce. Who will the children live with? Who will make important decisions in their lives? Are there issues ranging from abuse to addiction to neglect that might render a parent unfit? These are matters a New York City child custody lawyer can work with clients on, fighting for their best interests and those of their children.
Maryam Jahedi Law Firm P.C. has fought to protect children and parents across the five boroughs of New York City for over a decade. Call our New York City office today at (646) 798-7118 or contact us online to set up a consultation.
Legal Custody & Physical Custody in New York
Child custody is divided into two areas–legal and physical custody. To further break this down, both forms of custody can be granted either in full to one parent or jointly to both parents.
Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions in the life of the child. This refers generally to parental authority in matters pertaining to religion, education, and medical care. Physical custody is where the child will live.
A New York family court starts with an important presumption–that the child’s best interests are served by both parents having an equal role in their life. And it is the child’s best interests that are the only criteria a judge will consider in custody cases.
This does not mean the outcome will necessarily mean legal and physical custody will be equally divided. But that is the starting point, and the burden of proof lies with the parent–and their New York City child custody lawyer–to demonstrate otherwise.
Furthermore, a court can choose to award sole custody in one area and joint custody in another. It’s not uncommon for a child’s best interest to be served by living primarily with one parent. Perhaps one of the parents lives closer to school and friends. It can also be considered stabilizing for a child to stay with whichever parent will get the house in the property settlement. Any number of reasons can make it preferable for a child to have one primary residence.
However, this does not mean that the non-custodial parent gets excluded from the important decisions that legal custody covers. The parent who settles for visitation rights every other weekend might still be granted an equal say in whether the child goes to a private school, attends religious training, or undergoes a medical procedure.
Ultimately, every case is different because every family is different. Judges may start with the presumption that joint legal and physical custody is in the child’s best interests, but it’s certainly possible for a parent and their child custody attorney to persuade the court otherwise.
In custody and visitation matters every detail counts towards deciding the outcome and what the child’s life moving forward will be like. At Maryam Jahedi Law Firm P.C., we fight on even the smallest of legal issues–because when it comes to our children, nothing is truly small.
Call our office today at (646) 798-7118 or contact us online to set up a consultation.
If one parent is granted primary physical custody, that still leaves the matter of visitation rights for the non-custodial parent. It’s vastly preferable–though not always possible–for parents to work this out between themselves in a negotiated agreement.
It is further expected that visitation agreements will be extremely detailed, covering issues such as the following:
- When does the non-custodial parent pick up the kids and when are they returned? A good custody and visitation agreement will be specific along these lines– “Non-custodial parent picks up children after school on Friday and returns them on Sunday at 7 PM.”
- How is custody during school vacations handled? A spring break schedule might specifically say that every other year, the non-custodial parent gets the kids. Other holidays might be structured in a similar every-other-year format, ensuring both parents get more or less equal holiday time each year.
- The right to take the children on a vacation should be addressed in a thorough custody and visitation agreement. The amount of time for such a trip and when it can be taken can be a part of this–for example, authorizing the non-custodial parent to take kids on a two-week vacation every year during their summer break.
Is a Parent Unfit?
It’s an unfortunate reality that parents do suffer from problems like addiction. Some parents act abusively to their spouses and their children. Parents can be neglectful of a child’s basic needs. Perhaps these issues are the reason a divorce is being sought. Regardless of the reason, a child’s best interest is not served by spending time with a parent who is abusive, addicted, or neglectful.
But a parent’s unfitness must still be proven in court and that parent–as noted above–is given the benefit of the doubt. The burden lies with a spouse and their New York City child custody lawyer to show the court evidence that the child will not be safe with the other parent. If the court is persuaded by this evidence, sole custody will be awarded, with visitation rights drastically curtailed or eliminated.
Issues regarding our children are often sensitive and that can be even more so during a divorce proceeding. It’s important that a parent’s attorney have a deep knowledge of the law and a firm grasp of all the necessary details. The lawyer must further have demonstrated their commitment to diligently fighting for the best interests of parents and children.
Maryam Jahedi Law Firm P.C. has spent over a decade fighting for parents and children across the five boroughs of New York City. Call our office today at (646) 798-7118 or contact us online to set up a consultation.