Penfield, NY Child Custody Attorney
Entering a divorce is never an easy process. The decisions you make will have a lasting impact on your future. These considerations become even more imperative if you have children. In New York, custody is decided based on the child’s best interests. The court assesses a variety of factors to make this determination to ensure that the child’s life is as minimally impacted by the two parents’ split as possible. A Penfield, NY child custody lawyer has the skills to help you navigate this process.
At Trotto Law Firm, we understand that child custody is one of the most delicate and important topics to parents who are going through a divorce. We have experience with various custody arrangements and will work with you to determine what is in your child’s best interest. We understand no families are alike and will tailor our representation to meet your specific needs.
What Custody Options Are Available in New York?
There are two types of custody in New York: physical and legal.
- Physical custody is the legal arrangement regarding where the child will live. The parent that the child lives with is referred to as the “custodial parent,” while the other is called the “noncustodial parent.” In some cases, physical custody is shared between the parents, and the child lives with each parent for a certain period of time. This is referred to as “joint physical custody” and is a common arrangement among two divorced parents who both live close to each other and have not had any serious conflict.
- Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to which parents will have the authority to make decisions about the child’s life, such as their education, religion, and medical care. In some cases, both parents will share legal custody and must come to an agreement together about these important decisions. Other times, one parent will have sole legal custody. In these scenarios, the noncustodial parent will still have a right to be informed of these decisions, but the custodial parent will have the final say.
What Factors Does the Court Consider When Deciding Custody?
As stated earlier, the court will always prioritize the best interests of the child when making a custody determination. Some factors considered include:
- The child’s age
- The child’s health
- Each parent’s work schedule
- The child’s preference (if old enough)
- The distance between the parents’ homes
- Any history of domestic violence or abuse
It is important to note that the court does not give any weight to the gender of the parent when making a custody determination. This means that mothers and fathers are on equal footing when it comes to custody battles, and the final custody and visitation decision rests solely on how good a parent the court believes each party to be as of the current moment.
How Can a Penfield, NY Child Custody Lawyer Help Me?
If you are going through a divorce and have children, it is in your best interest to hire a child custody lawyer for the following reasons:
- A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options when it comes to custody.
- A lawyer can help you gather evidence to support your custody case.
- A lawyer can negotiate with the other parent on your behalf to come to mutually beneficial child custody agreements.
- A lawyer can represent you in court and fight for the custody arrangement that is in the best interest of your child.
These are basic but impactful ways in which a Penfield, NY child custody lawyer can help you during this difficult time. If you ever have any questions during the process, your lawyer will be there to provide guidance and support and ensure that your proceedings do not become delayed or inaccurately assessed due to a misstep on your part.
What Evidence Is Needed to Prove the Other Parent Is Unfit?
While the court does not give weight to any one factor over the other, there are some instances where one parent may be seen as unfit to care for the child due to various reasons. The following are examples of evidence that may be used to prove the other parent is unfit:
- History of domestic violence or abuse: This is one of the most common reasons why a parent may be seen as unfit. If there is any evidence that the other parent has physically, emotionally, or sexually abused you or your child in the past, this is unacceptable and will need to be shared with the court.
- A history of substance abuse: If the other parent has a history of substance abuse, this could show they are unfit. This is especially true if the substance abuse is recent or if there is evidence that the other parent abused drugs or alcohol around the child.
- A history of mental illness: Mental illness is an unfortunate but real reason why a parent may be seen as unfit. From deep levels of depression to anxiety and everything in between, if the other parent has a mental illness that causes them to act out or makes it difficult to care for the child, this may be used as a valid reason why not granting them custody is appropriate.
These three examples are some of the most common, but there may be other instances in which one parent is seen as unfit. Police reports, medical records, witness testimony, or character references may be used as evidence to prove that any of these claims are true.
What Happens If the Other Parent Refuses to Comply With the Custody Agreement?
If the other parent refuses to comply with the custody agreement, you have the right to take them back to court and file a contempt of court action. This means that you will go back before a judge and explain why the other parent is not following the custody agreement. If the judge finds that the other parent is indeed in contempt of court, they may order the following penalties:
- The other parent may have to pay a fine.
- The other parent may have to reimburse you for any legal fees you incurred as a result of their actions.
- The other parent may be ordered to make up any time they missed with the child.
- The other parent may be ordered to attend counseling.
- The other parent may lose custody rights altogether.
It is important to note that these penalties will only be imposed if the judge finds that the other parent is indeed in contempt of court. If the other parent has a valid reason for not being able to comply with the custody agreement, the judge may find them not in contempt.
How to Talk to Your Child About a New Custody Arrangement
If you are going through a divorce or are severing a relationship with the other parent, you may be worried about how to tell your child about the new custody arrangement. Here are a few tips to help you have this difficult conversation:
- Be honest and transparent with your child: It is important to be honest with your child about the situation. Tell them that you and the other parent are no longer together and that you will be sharing custody of them. Give them the specific details of the arrangement, such as how often they will see the other parent and where they will live.Explain that while they will be sharing their time between two homes, it is not because both parents want to spend less time with them. Discuss that this decision was made to ensure that they have a strong relationship with both parents while also providing stability in their lives.
- Listen to your child’s feelings: It is natural for your child to have a lot of questions and feelings about the situation. It can be tempting to immediately shut down any negative feelings they have, attempting to positively recontextualize their thoughts before they have a chance to fully process them. However, this can be confusing and overwhelming for your child. Instead, listen to their feelings and allow them to express themselves. This will help them to feel heard, understood, and will accelerate the processing and acceptance of the situation.
- Reassure your child: Once you have listened to your child’s feelings, it is important to reassure them. Let them know that the decision to split had nothing to do with them and that both parents love them very much. Assure them that they will still have a strong relationship with both parents and that they will be able to participate in all of their favorite activities.
- Create a sense of stability: One of the most important things you can do for your child is to create a sense of stability. Let them know that despite the changes in their family, their daily routine will remain the same. If possible, try to keep their same bedtime, school schedule, and extracurricular activities. This will help them to feel safe and secure during a time of change.
- Avoid placing blame: It is important to avoid placing blame on either parent. Your child should not feel like they have to choose sides or that they are responsible for the situation. This will only lead to feelings of guilt and confusion. While you may have negative and strong feelings about the other parent, it is important to keep these to yourself during this conversation. The reality is that your child will still need to have a relationship with the other parent, and it is important to encourage and facilitate that.
- Tell stories about other families: One way to help your child understand and feel better about the situation is to tell stories about other families who have gone through a similar experience. This can help them to see that they are not alone and that other families have been successful in co-parenting. You can find these stories in books, online, or even share a story from a different family member or friend who has gone through a similar experience. If the child has a friend whose parents have divorced, it can be helpful to set up a playdate or have a conversation with the other parent to help normalize the situation.
- Focus on the positive: It is important to focus on the positive aspects of the situation. Help your child to see that while there will be some changes, there are also a lot of positives that can come from the situation. For example, if the child has witnessed a ton of arguing between the parents, they may be relieved to experience greater peace and calm in the home. Or, if the child feels like they don’t get enough attention from one parent, they may be excited to have more one-on-one time with that parent. Helping your child to focus on the positive can help them to see the situation in a more optimistic light.
Top Qualities That Make the Best Custody Attorney
There are a lot of important qualities that make the best custody attorney, but a mastery of the following is what really sets them apart:
- Thorough knowledge of family law: This is the foundation for everything else. Mastery of family law is necessary to best represent and protect the interests of clients. From knowledge obtained in law school to experience handling cases, the best custody attorneys will have a wealth of legal know-how upon which to draw.
- Excellent communication skills: This quality is important for a few reasons. First, custody attorneys need to be able to explain the law and its application clearly and concisely to their clients. Second, they need to be able to effectively communicate with opposing counsel and the court. Third, many custody cases require mediation or negotiation, so strong communication skills are essential for reaching a favorable resolution.
- Creativity: This quality is important because it allows custody attorneys to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to difficult issues. For example, if there is a disagreement about which parent should have primary custody, the attorney may need to come up with a creative parenting plan that meets the needs of both parents and the child.
- Compassion: While all attorneys should be compassionate, it is especially important for custody attorneys. This is because they are typically dealing with clients who are going through a very difficult time in their lives. An attorney needs to be able to empathize with their clients, understand what they are going through, and take as much of the legal burden off of them as possible.
- Tenacity: Custody cases can be very complex and challenging, so it is important for custody attorneys to be tenacious. They need to be able to fight for their clients, even when the odds seem insurmountable.
- These are just some of the qualities that make the best custody attorney. If you are going through a custody dispute, it is important to find an attorney who has all of these qualities. Doing so will give you the best chance of success.
FAQs About Penfield, NA Child Custody Law
How Is Child Custody Determined in NY?
A child custody arrangement will have a direct impact on a child’s wellbeing and quality of life. The court considers many different factors when making a custody determination. This means ensuring that the child’s growth and development are well taken care of by evaluating all social and environmental aspects that play a role in the child’s life.
Do You Need a Lawyer For Family Court in NY?
You are not required to have a lawyer for Family Court in New York, but it is highly encouraged. Family law attorneys have a ton of legal knowledge and prior experiences that the average person does not have. Anyone who decides to self-represent runs the risk of making serious mistakes. With your children’s wellbeing and future on the line, it is best to have a professional in your corner.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost For Child Custody in NY?
The cost of a lawyer for child custody in New York will vary depending on the individual lawyer’s fee structure. Some lawyers can charge hourly, while others may charge a flat fee. It is important to ask about any fees upfront, so there are no surprises down the road.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce in NY?
An uncontested divorce in New York is when both parties agree on all terms of the divorce, such as child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, and division of property. Once the terms are agreed upon, the divorce is relatively quick and easy to finalize. Many people feel this is the ideal way to get divorced because it is less stressful and cheaper than a contested divorce.
Contact Trotto Law Firm Today
If you are facing a child custody battle in New York, it is important to have a Penfield, NY child custody lawyer on your side. The Trotto Law Firm has years of experience handling complex custody cases. We will work tirelessly to try to get you the best possible outcome for your case. Contact us today to start the first step towards a better life for you and your child.