If you are going through a divorce in New York, child custody may be one of the most emotional issues involved in the dissolution of a marriage. Property division can be costly, involving large assets like your home, real estate investments and retirement accounts, but issues related to the children often have some of the most deeply personal resonance. Even the most dedicated parents may feel uncertain about the child custody process and how their time with their children will be affected after the divorce. Understanding the system can help people to better advocate for themselves and their children.

Dealing with child custody in New York

When you go to family court to handle your divorce matters, the judge may strongly encourage both parents to seek an agreement between themselves. In most cases, family courts want to see both parents involved in the lives of their children as long as they are willing and there is no history of abuse or neglect. They will often recommend that parents negotiate a child custody agreement and parenting plan as part of the overall divorce decree. Family law attorneys may be a major resource during this process, providing valuable insight into the state’s legal system and helping you to present strong evidence for the outcome you want to achieve.

The best interests of the child

While family courts want to see both parents involved in the lives of their children, they also recognize that ongoing, high-conflict situations are rarely positive for the kids’ physical and emotional health. They are charged with making decisions based on the best interests of the child, and they may take a wide range of factors into account. These can include financial and emotional stability, the parent-child bond and, when older children are involved, the kids’ own perspectives on where they would like to live.

Both physical custody and legal custody – the right to make decisions about the child’s medical care, religion and education – may be held primarily by one parent or jointly by both. Your family law attorney may help you to advocate for your desired child custody outcome and to understand the options and timelines involved.