If you are going through a family legal battle, issues of child custody can be on the forefront of your mind. When parents cannot come to an agreement on what is best for all parties, a judge can be left to determine how child custody will be sorted. In New York, child custody is determined by the courts based on what is in “the best interests of the child.” This means that the arrangements under which a child is best cared for will trump the concerns or preferences of the parents.
How Are the “Best Interest of the Child” Determined?
There are no definite guidelines for what situations constitute the best interest of a child and it is up to the discretion of the courts to interpret all factors on a case by case basis. When determining custody, a judge will consider the ability of each parent to provide emotional and physical support for the child.
Factors used to determine custody may include:
- Health of children and parents
- Parental history of providing child care
- Home and living environments provided by the parent
- Emotional attachments felt by the child
- Evidence of abuse or neglect
Courts generally acknowledge that it is better for a child to have an active relationship with both parents when possible. Unless there are circumstances involving a history of abuse or neglect, the court will grant an order of visitation to the non-custodial parent (the parent who is not granted custody). A visitation order is a legal document which specifies when and for how long the non-custodial parent can spend time with their child.
In order to modify a custody agreement once it has been issued, one party will typically need to prove that a drastic change has taken place which directly effects their child’s wellbeing. A substantial adjustment can include, but is not limited to, a change in employment status, health issues of a parent or child, or change in residence.
What Can I Do to Improve My Child Custody Case?
While many factors that determine child custody can be beyond your control, you may be able to influence other factors through your behavior. As a court decides what is in the best interest of a child, you can demonstrate that you are able to responsibly care for your child and provide a constructive environment for them to grow.
Examples of influential behavior can include:
- Volunteering at your child’s school and assisting in after school activities including sports and educational clubs.
- Familiarize yourself with your child’s medical history and health care needs. Know their doctor’s names and when their last and next visits will occur.
- Stay positive and avoid participating in arguments with your ex-spouse or any of their legal representatives. You will want to present evidence that you are able to provide a positive atmosphere where your child can thrive.
- Document any instance of your parenting skills in action. Any evidence you can provide to support your claim to child custody can greatly strengthen your case in court.
Secure Passionate Family Law Representation
If you are currently in or anticipating a legal battle involving the custody of your child, a Dutchess County divorce attorney from the Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., LLC can help. Our lead attorney has maintained an 8.7/10 “Excellent” Rating by Avvo and comes highly recommended by past clients. When the future of your family is on the line, you need an attorney who you can trust to protect the interests of you and your family.
Call us at (845) 605-4330 for a free and confidential consultation. Talk to a lawyer about your case today.