If you are thinking about, currently in the process of, or have recently gone through a divorce on Long Island and have children, it is inevitable that both you and your partner have or will discuss child custody arrangements. Coming to an agreement that makes both you and your partner 100 percent happy will likely be rare, but if you are able to compromise with each other, you will both most likely get the majority of that which you desire.
What is Child Custody?
First, it is important that your divorce attorney makes you aware that there are two different types of custody involved:
- Legal Custody: gives the parent the authority to make legal decisions for the child(ren)
- Physical Custody: determines where the child or children will live.
Mothers Not Automatically Awarded Child Custody
While many people believe that Nassau County and Suffolk County courts will favor the mother over the father when determining the custody arrangement, this is not the case. Rather, the court looks at what situation would be in the best interests of the child or children. Factors taken into consideration are:
- which parent provided the child or children with the majority of his or her care
- the individual health of the parent
- the individual work schedule of each parent
- the child or children’s relationship with his or her other family members
Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, and therefore it is important to discuss with your divorce attorney any specific circumstances that you believe may effect the child custody arrangement.
General Visitation Rights
While joint custody is becoming more and more common, there are still instances where one parent will be awarded sole custody of the child or children. In these cases, the non-custodial parent will likely be awarded visitation rights. Visitation rights do not come in a one size-fits-all medium, and the type of visitation granted depends on the individual circumstances.
If there has been an instance of domestic violence or doubts about a child’s safety when with a parent, the court may order supervised visitation where it will appoint another adult to supervise the parent while he or she is visiting with the children. Additionally, if there are concerns of the actual meeting between the parents for exchanging the child or children, the court can appoint the interaction to be done at a neutral location, or direct a third party to be present when the change of custody for the visitation is taking place.
Holidays Are Important, So Are There Alterations to the Custody Agreement for Special Occasions?
Holidays, especially the winter holiday season, are a stressful time for most American families – where to go, what to eat, what to wear, and what gifts to purchase. However, if you are recently divorced, or are facing the first holiday season after a divorce, the thought of not spending the holidays with your children can perhaps be the most stressful thought of all. There are, however, a variety of arrangements you and your partner can enter into to help avoid the last minute stress of where your children will spend Christmas or Thanksgiving or any other holiday.
Suggested Holiday Arrangements
Because every family is different, the following are simply suggestions, and not meant to be a set of rules that you must follow. You and your spouse are free to create any arrangement which works best for the both of you. First, you may simply follow the 12-month calendar and agree that you will have the children for one holiday, and your partner will have the children for the next holiday. Or, if you want to ensure you each get to spend Christmas with the child, you can rotate years, i.e., the children will spend Christmas with you one year and then your spouse the next. You may decide to enter into a more personalized agreement; perhaps your favorite holiday is Halloween, while you are indifferent toward Christmas, and your spouse enjoys Thanksgiving. You can agree that you will each have the children on the days that mean the most to you. Additionally, if you cannot come to an agreement and you both are steadfast on seeing the children on every holiday, it may be the best idea for you to agree to split the day evenly. For example, the child will be with one parent from the morning through the early afternoon, and then spend the rest of the day with the other parent.
As always, do not forget that child custody arguments and battles often impact the children most. Whenever possible, try to have such discussions outside the presence of your children, and remember, that the happiness of your children should be the most important consideration.
Questions About Child Custody and Visitation on Long Island?
To learn more about what you need to know about Child Custody on Long Island, visit this page on Child Custody or contact us at 631-923-1910 for a complimentary consultation
Need Help With Your Child Custody Agreement on Long Island?
The divorce and family law attorneys at Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. are adept at negotiating Child Custody agreements that are fair and equitable for both parents. Give us a call at 631-923-1910 for a free consultation regarding your child custody issues.