As a Divorce Attorney on Long Island, I meet many fathers who experience anxiety and worry over whether they will be able to maintain meaningful relationships with their children once a divorce or separation occurs.
In the past, custody battles heard in Nassau County and Suffolk County court were often resolved in favor of the mother. The maternal preference commonly resulted in mothers having physical custody and parental authority over their children, while fathers often received only a visitation schedule. However, this gender-based preference was eventually determined to violate the civil rights granted to all Americans under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
Strong Representation Can Protect Fathers’ Rights
While there is no longer a statutory maternal preference, it is true that custody disputes still typically favor the mother when all of the other variables are equal. However, the courts on Long Island have trended away from this favoritism by considering a variety of factors before ruling on child custody and visitation cases. With competent attorney representation that can effectively advocate fathers’ rights before the court, the rights of fathers can now increasingly be protected under the law.
Best Interests of the Children Is the Key
Suffolk County and Nassau County courts now decide these cases primarily based on the best interests of the children. In many cases, this allows fathers to maintain active roles in their children’s lives by obtaining joint legal or physical custody, or even full custody of their children.
NYS Recognizes Important Role of Fathers
Of course, the outcome of custody disputes depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. However, New York State law acknowledges the importance of the role of the father in a child’s life and strongly considers this factor in determining the best outcome for the family. Both fathers and mothers make unique contributions to childhood development, and many fathers are now awarded joint or full custody of their children.
Be Positive and Active In Your Children’s Lives
Fathers who maintain an active and positive role in their children’s lives are the best contenders for joint custody or getting the visitation that they desire. It is very important for fathers to remember that putting forth their best effort to care for their children’s needs for emotional and financial support will demonstrate to the court that their desire to be with their children is genuine.
Don’t Seek Custody Out of Anger or Resentment
Unfortunately, many parents involved in custody battles let their own feelings of anger or resentment toward their former spouses influence their requests in court. Requests for custody or visitation that are made out of spite or to hurt the other parent are often quite transparent to the court. It is important that fathers do their best to follow court orders, comply with child support payments, and show respect and responsibility in the process. These are some lesser discussed factors that surely do not go unnoticed by the court, and can assist greatly in asserting a father’s rights.
Mediation Can Help
The ability of both parents to maintain meaningful relationships with their children should be the primary goal of any custody dispute. Children need financial and emotional support from both parents. Fathers are encouraged to participate in meditation and, if possible, come to an agreement with their spouse or former spouse that will be in the best interests of the family as a whole. A certain degree of cooperation and compromise is often necessary, and saves both parents and children a great deal of emotional and financial distress. Fathers should not, however, compromise on their right to be involved in their children’s lives.
Check out our Divorce Guide for Dads for more information about divorce issues specifically related to fathers.
Long Island Divorce Attorneys Can Help Protect Your Father’s Rights
The experienced and compassionate Long Island divorce attorneys at Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. can help represent your father’s rights in Nassau County or Suffolk County court. Whether you are looking to move forward as a single parent, looking to change your child custody arrangement, or seeking a modification to a court order, we can help. If you are a Nassau County or Suffolk County resident, or if you live in one of the five boroughs of New York City, contact one of our experienced attorneys today at 631-923-1910 for a free consultation.
Our 41-page “Guide to New York Divorce: What You Need to Know Before Hiring a Divorce Lawyer in New York” written by an experienced family law lawyer Long Island’s Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., provides you with real information on the divorce process and the laws it rests upon in the state of New York. This book will help give you a solid foundation upon which you can begin the process of making your family’s, life better. Download your Free Guide to New York Divorce here.