Child Custody is a significant issue for most Long Island couples during divorce proceedings. For a family that is used to living together under one roof, it is of course difficult for either parent to imagine living separate and apart from their children. While this is an unfortunate outcome of most divorces, there are a variety of arrangements available to you and your ex-spouse in order to make the transition as easy as possible for you, your spouse and your children.
What Is Child Custody & How Does It Work?
When you get divorced on Long Island, New York, you and your spouse will be faced with many decisions. One of those decisions will be what type of child custody arrangement you will enter into. While there are many types, the two most common are Joint Legal Custody and Joint Residential Custody, and both of these raise concerns when dealing with the child’s education.
How Do I Get Custody of My Children on Long Island?
If you are looking to apply for Child Custody on Long Island, you must be sure all jurisdictional requirements are met first. Before a New York court can hear your child custody petition, the child must have resided in the state for the past six months. Of course, this residency requirement is not an issue if your child has lived in New York for his or her entire life. If, on the other hand, you have just moved to New York with your child, you will have to either wait six months to file for custody in New York, or file in the state where the child resided for the previous six months.
What Factors Do the Courts Use to Determine Child Custody on Long Island?
Most people erroneously assume that the mother will be granted full legal custody in Child Custody cases. However, there is no such presumption in New York, and that means that either parent can be granted custody.
New York courts follow what is known as the “best interests of the child” standard. Under this standard, the court will consider the child’s relationship with each parent, the parent’s relative age and health, the child’s relationships with other members of the parent’s family, and if the child would be separated from his or her siblings, among other items. Each child custody situation is different, and there are no black and white guidelines. Therefore, it is important to discuss the specifics of your case with your Long Island divorce attorney.
What are the Different Types of Child Custody Arrangements?
It is important to differentiate between Legal and Physical Custody. Legal Custody concerns the authority to make decisions on behalf of the child, while Physical Custody simply refers to where the child will live.
What is Sole Legal Custody?
In a Sole Legal Custody arrangement one parent has the right to make all major decisions for the child. This includes decisions about education, healthcare and religious instruction, amongst other things. This arrangement permits only one parent to have custody of the child. The non-custodial parent will either have very limited or no visitation rights.
What is Joint Legal Custody?
If you and your ex-spouse can communicate amicably with regards to the best interests of your children, you may wish to opt for a Joint Legal Custody arrangement. Under such terms, both parents act as a unit in deciding the above mentioned “major decisions” for each child. However, if both parents cannot reach an agreement, the action cannot be taken. Therefore, it is extremely important to be sure that you and your ex-spouse are honest with each other and understand the type of relationship that permits for open and honest communication about your children. Because each parent will at one point have physical custody of the child, the daily, routine decisions of the child’s life are made by the parent who has physical custody of the child at that time.
What is Sole Physical Custody
In a sole Physical Custody arrangement, one parent is declared the “custodial parent” and the child resides primarily with him or her. The other parent, having been declared the non-custodial parent, will retain visitation rights with the child. While the non-custodial parent and child may miss each other, this type of arrangement fosters a feeling of stability in the child as he or she will generally continuously reside in the same house in the same neighborhood and school district with his or her friends.
What is Joint Physical Custody?
In a Joint Physical Custody arrangement, both parents are awarded physical custody of the children. Such an arrangement may be satisfied by having the child live with his or her mother for one month or week and then reside with the father for that same period of time. While this type of arrangement may be most appealing to the parents, you must consider how the constant back and forth movement may affect the child’s well-being and feelings of “home.”
What is Joint Residential Custody?
Joint Residential Custody simply allows both parents to have physical custody of the children on an equal basis.
Actions Now Can Affect Your Child Custody in Nassau County & Suffolk County Courts
As Divorce Attorneys practicing on Long Island, we see many critical mistakes that occur at the beginning or before a divorce case is even filed that put many parents at a disadvantage when it comes to their ability to have Child Custody with their children when the divorce is finalized.
Long Island Child Custody Mistake #1
One of the biggest and most common mistakes a parent living in Nassau County or Suffolk County can make is to move out of the marital/joint residence and leave your child with the other spouse. This essentially gives away custody to the residential parent. If you want to retain custody of your child or children, you cannot move out of the home without your child, period. No matter how bad the situation is with your partner, in the Nassau County or Suffolk County court system, if you leave without the child, you essentially give up Child Custody.
Long Island Child Custody Mistake #2
If you do decide that you must move out of the joint residence with the children, make sure you get your spouse’s consent to do so. This does not necessarily have to be a formal written agreement; you can simply ask your spouse in an email to respond to your request to move out with the children. If your spouse consents via a reply email, it amounts to a virtual statement by your spouse that you are the child’s or children’s primary caregiver.
Long Island Child Custody Mistake #3
Conversely, if you are the parent remaining in the marital home and you give permission to your spouse to leave with the children, you are telling the Nassau County and Suffolk County courts that your spouse is the child or children’s primary caregiver.
Protect Your Child Custody Rights Now
As experienced divorce attorneys practicing on Long Island, we recognize that preventing your spouse from moving out of the marital home with the children is more difficult to control than staying in your residence, however, there are steps you can take to protect your Child Custody rights. First, as soon as it is clear that you and your spouse are getting divorced, make it absolutely clear to your spouse that it’s not okay with you for them to take the children. This too can be done through texts and emails. Make it clear that your spouse is free to leave the marital home, but your children must remain until your divorce and child custody case is fully resolved.
File for Divorce Early in Nassau or Suffolk County Court to Protect Yourself
As soon as you realize that your marriage is ending, it is a good idea to file for a divorce. The filing of a divorce petition, protects your Child Custody rights, should your spouse attempt to move out of the joint residence and take the children without your consent. With a pending divorce case, you will have the right to seek emergency relief requesting that the children be returned to their home. Of course, in such a case, it is important to have a record that you do not consent to the other spouse removing the children from their home.
Child Custody Attorneys & Child Support Lawyers on Long Island
The Child Custody Attorneys and Child Support Lawyers at Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. protect your rights and the rights of your children to ensure they reside in the household that is in their best interest, have appropriate visitation with the non-custodial parent and are financially supported to ensure they receive the best childhood possible.
Certainly one of the most emotionally charged aspects of your divorce concerns your child or children. Tragically, children all too often get caught in the cross-fire of divorcing parents, when what should be ultimately important to everyone concerned is the welfare of the child. The experienced attorneys at Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. work tirelessly to mitigate the negative impact of your divorce on your children and ensure they receive the support they need to grow up to be healthy, productive adults.
Child Custody Attorneys & Child Support Lawyers on Long Island, NY Protect You and Your Children
The child support lawyers and child custody attorneys at the law firm of Robert E. Hornberger, P.C., Attorneys and Counselors at Law in Melville, NY regularly and successfully represents Long Islanders like you in Nassau County, NY and Suffolk County, NY family courts for issues regarding:
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Orders of Protection
Child Custody Lawyers, Child Support Attorneys & Child Visitation
The Child Custody Attorneys and Child Support Lawyers at Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. are uniquely dedicated to protecting your interests and ensuring that the best interests of your child are foremost in any Child Custody, Child Support or Visitation, case. To mitigate the stress on your child we usually try to peacefully negotiate or mediate a settlement with your former spouse. However, when the situation warrants it, our Child Support Attorneys and Child Custody Lawyers will aggressively litigate in the best interests of you and your child or children. Our successful track record in court has helped many children receive the care and support they deserve.
To protect yourself and the rights and welfare of your children with regard to Child Custody, Child Support or Visitation, you need experienced legal representation by Child Support attorneys who understand the Child Support Standards Act. Child Custody attorneys and Child Support Lawyers at the Law Offices of Robert E. Hornberger, P.C. regularly represent Long Islanders like you in Nassau County, Suffolk County and the surrounding areas to fight for your rights and the rights of your children in Child Custody, Child Support and Visitation cases.
If you are considering making an application for child support, or if you have received a summons or a letter from a child support attorney or child custody lawyer regarding child support or custody, contact the family law offices of Robert E. Hornberger, P.C. and one of our experienced attorneys will advise you on how to best protect your legal rights and the rights of your children.
What You Need to Know About Orders of Protection & Neglect
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