New York courts have come a long way in the past few years in determining child custody. Long gone are the days when the mother is heavily favored in the custody determination. The courts have recognized the benefits and importance of having both parents play an equal role, whenever possible, in the upbringing of their children. The prospect of “sole custody” is unwarranted and unrealistic in most cases and only appropriate in the rarest of situations. Joint custody with a 50/50 access schedule is becoming more the norm than the exception. An experienced and reputable divorce and custody attorney is absolutely essential in this most important and critical aspect of any divorce.
Child custody is determined by what is “in the best interest of the child,” NOT by what is in the best interests of either parent. In making that determination, the court will look at the facts of each individual case and apply those facts to various factors important to the “best interests” determination. Factors may include:
- Age of Parents
- Alcohol and Drug Use
- Availability of Parents
- Disability and Physical Health
- History of Domestic Violence
- Existing Custodial Agreements
- Finances of Parents
- History of Child Neglect or Abuse
- Forensic Evaluation
- Home Environment
- Mental and Emotional Stability
- Parent’s Behavior in Court
- Preference of the Child (when age appropriate)
- Primary Caretaker
- Willingness to Foster the Child’s Relationship with the Other Parent
- Any Other Factor Deemed Relevant By the Court.
While this may not be an exhaustive list, it highlights what is important in the eyes of the court. Preparation of your case MUST begin immediately in assessing what is in the best interests of your child in order to arrive at a timely and cost effective resolution of custody. While it is always recommended that the parties determine custody and parenting issues by way of a negotiated Parenting Agreement, often an agreement is not possible and litigation is necessary forcing the court to decide all issues related to custody and parenting.
At The Rossi Law Firm, our Buffalo divorce team understands the emotional and financial challenges individuals face when confronting the uncertainty of the divorce process, including child custody. We will be there for you when you need the guidance and direction to get you through the difficult times. If you are ready to move forward with your divorce, call The Rossi Law Firm at 716-854-5555. “It may be the most important call you will ever make!” – Michael Anthony Rossi