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Manhattan Child Custody Attorney

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Of all the issues in a divorce or family court case, child custody is one of the most tumultuous. It is also one of the most emotional. That is why child custody attorneys, like those at the Law Office of Vivien I. Stark, P.C., have special training and education to guide families through the child custody process with empathy, compassion, and skill.

At the Law Office of Vivien I. Stark, P.C., we know how important child custody is to your case, and our Manhattan child custody lawyers commit the time, effort, and resources to fight for the best interests of you and your children. We will guide you through every step of your child custody matter, as well as offer you personalized solutions to your child custody issues as they arise.

The attorneys at the Law Office of Vivien I. Stark, P.C. are:

  • Experienced in all areas of New York child custody matters;
  • Prompt and responsive in returning calls and other communications; and
  • Driven to make your child custody goals a reality.

Before taking any steps in your child custody matter, contact our Manhattan law office. We will gladly schedule a meeting at your convenience with one of our child custody professionals.

How Can a Manhattan Child Custody Attorney Help?

Child custody attorneys help clients manage the complex issues involved in New York child custody cases. At the Law Office of Vivien I. Stark, P.C., our Manhattan child custody attorneys handle a myriad of points on your behalf, including, but not limited to:

  • Negotiating with the other parent or their attorney;
  • Ensuring timely filing of any child custody documents;
  • Representing your interests in any court appearances;
  • Providing honest, expert advice about legal possibilities and outcomes;
  • Entering initial child custody orders or modification orders depending on your case status; and
  • Dealing with an out of the country or out-of-state custody matter.

By taking your legal issues off your shoulders, the child custody attorneys at the Law Office of Vivien I. Stark, P.C. are also reducing your stress. Not having to focus on your child custody issues allows you to do what is important, and spend more time with your children.

Make your appointment for a child custody evaluation today. Our New York divorce attorneys will provide you with a fresh, objective perspective and potential solutions to your child custody problems.

What is the Best Interests Standard?

While there are several child custody laws in New York, each centered on protecting a child’s best interests, the court does not presume a parent will act as a better custodian due to their gender or marital status.

Instead, the court looks to specific factors that affect a child’s best interests, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Which parent the child primarily resides with and for how long;
  • If the child has special needs and which parent can handle these needs;
  • Whether domestic abuse is an issue;
  • Whether the court may place siblings together;
  • Whether one parent can better handle a child’s intellectual and emotional development;
  • Whether one parent will better foster a relationship with the other parent;
  • Whether one parent will attempt to alienate the other parent;
  • Whether either parent has a substance abuse problem;
  • Which parent can best provide the child’s basic needs;
  • The home environment of each parent;
  • The parents’ work schedules; and
  • If there is a strong bond between a child and the parent.

When selecting a custodial parent, courts will take a child’s preference into account in addition to the above child custody factors. Courts decide custody cases based on the totality of the circumstances. This means that courts take cases as a whole instead of singling out one aspect to make a custody decision.

Types of Child Custody in New York

There are several custody decisions a court can make in New York, or parents can choose to abide by in a mutually agreed custody settlement.

Joint Custody

When two parents split custody of their child, this is called joint custody. It does not need to be split 50/50. Normally there will be one primary residence for the child, but the parents will work out a visitation schedule. Child support is still mandated in New York for joint custody cases.

Sole Custody

Sole custody happens when there is only one custodial parent. The non-custodial parent can potentially have visitation rights, but the child does not live with them and they cannot make decisions about the child.

Legal Custody

When a parent has legal custody, that means they are in charge of all major decisions for the child, including education, medical, religion, and more.

Physical Custody

A parent who has physical custody of a child has the child living with them in their residence. Visitation rights are possible if they are in the best interest of the child, and child support may be required.

Choosing Joint Physical Custody or Sole Physical Custody

Courts in Manhattan and throughout New York typically default to joint physical custody. If one parent believes sole physical custody is in their child’s best interest, with the child living with only one parent while the other has visitation, they must make this part of their parenting plan. If both parents agree, a judge decides on sole custody as the parents specified. If both parents don’t agree on sole custody a judge must decide. Keep in mind that judges typically default to shared custody agreements since it’s in the best interest of the child. A parent seeking sole custody would have to show the court how it’s in the child’s best interest.

Visitation Rights in Manhattan

New York courts believe both parents deserve and are entitled to regular, frequent, and consistent visitation with their children. Most child custody arrangements in Manhattan include a visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent that includes overnight visits every other weekend and one dinner and evening visit during the week, typically on Wednesdays. While judges may award a noncustodial parent more visitation, they rarely award less. In cases of child abuse or neglect, a judge may decide to award only supervised visits with a mutually agreed-upon 3rd party or in a supervised setting at a specified agency.

Common Shared Custody Schedules in New York

Divorcing parents face the task of making a parenting plan to present to a judge, often through a mediator. This plan is required to settle a case, while it’s optional if the case goes to court in instances where a couple cannot agree on custody arrangements. Some popular parenting custody schedules in Manhattan include the following:

  • The 2-2-5-5 schedule specifies that children spend 2 days with one parent, then two days with the other, followed by 5 days with the first parent, and then 5 days with the other. Then the schedule repeats. This splits custody 50/50 without causing each parent long periods of time without their child. It also evenly shares weekday and weekend custody.
  • The 3-4-4-3 schedule specifies that children spend 3 days with one parent, then 4 days with the other, then 4 days with the first parent, and three days with the other on a repeating loop. This leaves each parent with the children for the same nights each week except for one changing night. It also minimizes transitions for the children and shares custody 50/50.
  • The alternating-week schedule. One parent has the children for a week and then the children go to the other parent for a week. This is the simplest schedule and works well for older children who can go for longer periods without seeing one parent. It minimizes packing, transitioning, and disruption.
  • The traditional visitation schedule. This schedule is not 50/50 but works well for many families. In this schedule, the non-custodial parent has the children every other weekend plus one evening per week for dinner, typically on Wednesdays. Some parents prefer this schedule so children don’t have to change homes, pack, and transition as often as a 50/50 schedule.

What to Do if You Believe Child Custody Is Unfair

Most of the time, child custody attorneys find themselves up against the laws of the court and various restrictions when trying to get their clients the best possible outcome. When you do not get awarded child custody, or you do not believe that the allowances made are fair, it is critical that you take the time to pursue change in the right manner.

Discuss your situation with your child custody attorney first. While doing so, there are a few more factors to keep in mind:

  • Make sure you maintain any orders in place at this time. If you are required to share custody, do so. If you fail to abide by any court orders, that automatically means you are breaking the law, and that makes any modifications to your case more challenging.
  • Stay off social media. While it can be downright hard to navigate this on your own, especially when your emotions are everywhere, make sure you do not bad mouth the other parent on social media or post any type of comments that could be considered a violation. You want to make sure the court does not see you as a risk.
  • Document everything that occurs. That includes text messages or other statements that the parent makes that could be seen as some type of violation of your rights. Facts in these cases can matter.
  • Avoid engaging in hateful talks or text messages with the other party. Again, you do not want the court to see you as the problem but instead to see why they should not put your child’s custody in the other party’s hands.
  • Provide solid proof and evidence of why you are the better choice. Most importantly for most clients is being able to show, beyond a doubt, that the child’s best interests are in having time with you. Make sure you have a stable environment to offer, ensure that you have a positive living arrangement, and meet any other concerns.

One of the ways our child custody attorney can help you is by understanding why the court may have made the decision it made. This could help you to make changes that demonstrate your willingness to work with the court so that you can have more time with your child. As challenging as this is, we encourage you to stay above the law throughout the battle.

Know When to Take Action

If you believe your child is at risk in any way, always take action. This includes documenting what occurred and, when there is evidence of any type of abuse, getting your child the help they need. This may involve calling the policy, but it may also include pursuing legal action through the court.

Having a trusted and experienced child custody lawyer can help you know when to take action. Remember that the court wants to do what it believes is in the best interest of the child. It is up to you to show them what that really is.

Contact Our Manhattan Child Custody Lawyers

To learn more about child custody arrangements such as relocation, call our law firm and speak with an experienced Manhattan child custody lawyer. Our child custody attorneys will explain each type of custody available to your family in detail and help you decide the best fit for your family’s needs.

It is often overwhelming to attempt settling child custody matters on your own. Call the Law Office of Vivien I. Stark, P.C. to schedule a consultation before moving forward alone.

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