Long Island Child Custody Attorney

Supportive Counsel & Aggressive Court Representation

Long Island Child Custody Lawyer

I recognize the significance in keeping children protected from any divorce or separation process. However, if parents are unable to agree upon the custody arrangement I am always prepared to zealously advocate for my client in Court.

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Types of Child Custody in New York

Child Custody Laws in New York define custody as LEGAL custody and PHYSICAL custody.

  1. Legal custody generally describes the ability to make important decisions about the child(ren)
  2. Physical custody generally describes where does the child reside more than 51% of the time.

Legal custody of your child is a big deal. It’ll impact you and your child’s life until they are 18 years old, and you’ll want a skilled attorney representing your requests for custody to ensure that your legal custodial rights are protected and defined to your satisfaction.

Sole Custody

Sole legal custody is where one parent has the sole decision making authority to determine all major issues as it relates to the child(ren). The sole legal parent may not be required to provide any prior notice to the other parent prior to making any major decisions that relate to the child(ren).

Joint Custody

Joint legal custody generally provides parents with equal decision making authority relating to major decisions of the child(ren), and provides equal rights accessing the child(ren)’s educational and medical records, and signing off on obtaining/renewing any passports for the child(ren).

What is Final Decision Making Authority?

Final Decision Making authority is the mechanism implemented when two parents cannot unanimously agree upon a major decision relating to the needs of the child(ren). Either one parent could have the final decision making authority, or a third party professional can be an influential “tie-breaker” or the court could have final decision making authority.

What Is Physical Custody of a Child?

Physical custody is generally defined as where the child resides more than 51% of the time. That parent is entitled to receive statutory child support.

How Is Child Custody Determined in New York?

When there is a child custody dispute in New York, it is determined by a multitude of factors. The primary influence being the “best interests of the child(ren)”. In order to determine the best interests of the children, the Courts use several factors, where the children have previously resided, the ages of the child(ren), the wishes and desires of the child(ren), the parent’s anticipated living arrangements, either parent’s ability to co-parent and encourage positive relationships with the other parent plus other factors.

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What Do Judges Look for in Child Custody Cases?

In child custody cases, judges in New York are looking for the best interests of the child(ren). A stable environment for the child(ren), the child(ren)’s wishes, the effort to co-parent with the other parent, and a positive relationship with the other parent are all factors.

Child Custody and Visitation Agreement

These agreements outline the custodial arrangements for the child(ren) and specify the parenting time of each parent on a regular and routine schedule, but also addresses special occasions, holiday events, and the logistical details of everyday life.

Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live with?

Parents make the decisions of where the child(ren) will live. If the parents cannot decide then the Court will decide. In both cases, the child(ren)’s wishes are taken into consideration, but they are not given the sole power to make the “choice”. Additionally, the older the child and the more articulate of the child expresses wants and wishes, the greater the weight of their opinion will be taken into consideration.

When Can a Child Refuse Visitation with a Non-custodial Parent?

Parents have an obligation to encourage and facilitate all agreed upon or court ordered parenting time; however, in the event of a child refusing to participate in the visitation, there are many approaches that will follow. Firstly, if the child is young enough for the parent to facilitate the transfer, then the parent shall do so. If the child is of an age where their actions are difficult to control by the parent, then the court may next refer the family to reunification visitation where a licensed professional with the skills to reunify the family bonds will facilitate the visitation with the child and the parent he/she is refused to visit with.

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Who Pays Child Support in Joint Custody?

There are many factors for the Court to consider with joint custody child support. In general, the spouse with the greatest income can be required to pay child support, however, there are many considerations when determining child support for joint residential arrangements.

Child Custody Dispute Resolution

A child custody dispute can be resolved with or without court intervention. A collaborative approach in allowing parents to figure out what is best for their children is far more advantageous than allowing a stranger (the Judge at Court) to determine the outcome for your children. However, when you cannot reach an agreement with the other parent the courts have an obligation to protect the children and will always make decisions in the child’s best interest.

Divorce and Child Custody

Child Custody often will go hand in hand with divorce, and when custody is at issue, it is the paramount concern for all involved. While litigating a divorce in the Supreme Court, all divorce judges will require that parents use their best efforts to attempt child custody agreements, both on a temporary basis and final agreements. The courts urge all parties to co-parent as effectively and constructively as possible.

Parenting Plan

What is a parenting plan? A parenting plan is a carefully crafted legal document which outlines all parenting time with the children and each parent. This plan will provide an agreement between the parents which states the regular and routine schedule for the parents and children.

The parenting plan will also outline the anticipated holidays and school breaks of the children (and/or anticipated vacation time for parents of young children before school age). A parenting plan will address as many potential future situations and provide a defined explanation as to which parent shall be with the child(ren) and when. The parenting time will also explain who will facilitate all pick up and drop offs of the children, and also where.

Parenting Plan vs Custody Agreement

A parenting plan will address all parenting time and visitation though it may not address all custodial arrangements. Whereas a Custody agreement will specifically address the legal custodial arrangement of the parents and the children, in addition to the parenting time plan/visitation arrangements.

Supportive Guidance & Zealous Advocacy

Child Custody is a very delicate legal issue that requires a balance of supportive guidance and zealous advocacy to achieve your desired results. The balanced approach is carefully designed to ensure your comfort level is always managed, your children are always safe and protected, and your expectations are met as best as possible.

Very truly yours,
Samantha R. Gellman-Carollo, Esq.