The New York family courts hear child custody cases and issue custody orders. A custody order gives the responsibility for the child’s care to one or both parents, or others in some cases. The court issues custody orders for children up until the age of 18. There are several classifications of child custody as follows:
- Sole legal custody: One parent or guardian is solely given responsibility for the child’s key decisions and issues such as health, education, safety etc.
- Sole physical custody: One parent or guardian provides the residence (home) and supervision of the child.
- Joint legal custody: Responsibility is shared between the parents for key decisions/issues such as the child’s health, education, safety etc.
- Joint physical custody: Responsibility is shared between the parents for providing the residence and supervision of the child.
The parent who is not issued custody, referred to as the non-custodial parent, is typically allotted parenting time with the child on some plan or schedule known as visitation. In certain circumstances the court will decide to issue a temporary or emergency order of custody or visitation to remain in effect during the interim period before a permanent issue of such is decided.
Factors That the Courts Consider
When issuing custody and visitation, the courts objectively review the circumstances with the ultimate goal of determining what arrangement is in the child’s best interest. Factors that are considered include:
- The parent who has been the primary giver/nurturer of the child:
- Feeding the child.
- Preparing the child for school and managing transportation to and from.
- Being the point of contact with the child’s school teacher(s).
- Assisting the child with homework and coordinating after-school activities.
- Taking the child to doctor visits, and caring for the child when ill, and more…
- The quality of parenting skills (strengths and weaknesses).
- The state of the parent’s health (mental and physical).
- Work schedules, availability, and child care coverage.
- The child’s possible relationships with siblings and members of either household.
- Feedback from the child, if age appropriate.
- Each parent’s willingness to support the child’s continued relationship with the other parent.
- Any less common, or extraordinary factors such as:
- Abandonment occurrences, where one had no contact for 6 or more months.
- Any issues of domestic violence, or other examples of neglect or abuse.
- A parent facing either deportation or imprisonment.
In 1997, The U.S. Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) began. It was designed to rectify the pattern of inconsistent case laws across the country for child custody and visitation when more than one state is involved.
The family courts frequently are called upon to resolve relocation cases, which tend to be strongly contested. The interests of a parent with a custody order, who wishes to move away with the child, may be met with strong opposition from the non-custodial parent. As with custody cases, relocation decisions by the court are based on what is in the child’s best interest. Both the child and non-custodial parent have visitation rights intended to be meaningful and significant that can be impacted by the relocation. Common factors that are considered may include:
- Each parent’s reasons for the desire to move and reasons for opposition to it.
- The degree in which the relationship will be impacted with the non-custodial parent.
- Whether a suitable visitation schedule can be negotiated.
Situations involving interstate custody and relocation can be quite volatile. At the Law Offices of Paul A. Boronow, PC, we have been representing our Nassau County clients in resolving family matters for over 20 years. Make the call to (516) 227-5353 for a free consultation and review of your case.