How Courts Evaluate Fathers in Child Custody Cases in NY
Getting divorced is an emotional and stressful experience for all involved, but as a divorced or divorcing father you have special and unique concerns. One of the biggest issues for divorced dads on Long Island, NY are issues surrounding child custody and child support. It can be difficult to navigate the New York state legal system, especially when it comes to proving to the court that you’re a fit parent and that it would be in your child’s best interests to be in your care.
Here’s what you can expect during the child custody evaluation process and how to get qualified legal help when dissolving your marriage.
Child Custody Evaluations in NY Explained
Any time two parents separate, important decisions need to be made about who will be primarily responsible for the child and where the child will primarily live. New York courts consider the best interests of the child above all, so before awarding custody to one parent or the other, a judge will order a custody evaluation to assess which parent is the best fit for the child’s specific needs.
An evaluator then visits the parents’ homes and checks for specific things like:
#1. Your Physical & Mental Health
The court will want to make sure that you are physically and mentally capable of providing care to your child while they’re with you. They may ask several questions about your health history, your mental state, and any conditions that you were diagnosed with by a physician and the medications you may have been prescribed to treat those conditions.
The court will also assess if you have a history of violence of any kind, especially against vulnerable individuals like the elderly, animals, and children.
#2. The Location of Your Home
Where your home is located in relation to your child’s school and extracurricular activities is also a major consideration for where your child will stay during the school year. If you live far away from your child’s school and other events, courts may consider an alternative custody arrangement where your child stays with you primarily throughout the summer and with his or her mother during the school year. They stay with the parent located closest to their school so they can easily commute back and forth.
The court will also take note of the neighborhood that you live in and how safe the area is for children. You’ll need to have a reasonably clean home and show that you have enough space for your child to have an area of their own.
#3. How Much You Earn
The judge will also want to make sure that you are earning enough money to be able to provide for your child while they’re in your home. This is generally calculated after your familial financial responsibilities like alimony and child support.
If a judge determines that you don’t currently earn enough to provide stable housing for you to be considered for full custody, you may still be able to petition for joint custody and/or frequent visitation. The state of New York understands how important it is for children to maintain strong family bonds and generally only deny custody or visitation in situations where it would be harmful to the child.
#4. Your Work Schedule
How often you work, for what hours, and for how long are all things that will play a significant role in how child custody is determined. You will need to be able to show that you primarily work while your child is not at home and that you have the ability, as needed, to take time off for doctor’s appointments, extracurriculars, and just to spend quality time with your child.
If you are extremely busy with work or travel a lot, this could potentially have an impact on how a judge decides to allocate child custody and visitation time.
When To Contact an Experienced Long Island, NY Divorce Lawyer
If you are a divorcing father, don’t wait to get experienced legal help from a qualified Long Island NY, family lawyer. An attorney with vast experience in this area of the law can help you better prepare for the custody evaluation process and make any arguments against decisions that afford you less contact with your child.
At Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C., we have the skills and experience to provide you with comprehensive child custody and divorce representation. Contact us today for more information about what you can expect during a child custody evaluation or to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss your case. Call now at 631-923-1910 or complete our short online contact form and our legal team will be happy to get back to you as quickly as possible.
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