CHILD CUSTODY LAWYER EXPLAINS:
The Rights of Parents vs. The Rights of Non-Parents in Westchester, NY
Typically, only parents have the right to seek
custody of their children and they will usually have a superior right of custody
over any non-parent.
In order for a non-parent's claim or petition for custody to even be
considered, the non-parent must demonstrate that there are extraordinary
circumstances that would justify an award of custody. Such extraordinary
circumstances include, but are not limited to, surrender, abandonment,
persistent neglect, unfitness or other like extraordinary factor.
Once there is a determination that the requisite extraordinary circumstances
exist, then and only then may the court consider granting custody to the
non parent. But even then, it still must be proven that such a custody
award would be in the child's best interest.
Physical Custody and Legal Custody in Westchester
Physical or residential custody refers to where the child lives. Legal
custody refers to which parent has the legal authority to make decisions
about and involving the child.
Joint Custody in Westchester County
Joint custody or joint legal custody gives both parents equal decision making authority
as to major decisions for the child. It does not mean how much time the
child spends with each of the parents. Decisions which impact the child
include: the residence of the child, medical and dental treatment, education,
childcare, religious education, extra-curricular activities, summer camp
Since joint custody affords equal decision making, it is important that
the parents be able to communicate and that there is an appropriate means
to resolve any disputes on issues that the parents cannot work out between
How Do the Westchester Courts Determine Custody Awards?
Courts in Westchester County apply a "best interest" standard
which is dictated by New York law. In making the best interests determination,
the courts routinely consider the following (among other) factors:
- The parental guidance the custodial parent provides for the child;
- The ability of each parent to provide for the child's emotional and
- The financial status and ability of each parent to provide for the child;
- The home environment;
- The effect that an award of custody to one parent might have on the child's
relationship with the other parent;
- Age, Disability, Physical and Mental Health of each parent;
- Alcohol & Drug Use;
- Domestic Violence;
- Existing informal Custodial Agreements;
- Existing written Custody Agreements;
- The finances of each parent;
- Any findings of child neglect or abuse;
- Mental health evaluations and recommendations;
- Child preferences;
- The possible effect of a custodial change on the children;
- The effect of a separation of siblings;
Hiring a Proven Westchester Divorce and Family Law Attorney is Important
Dealing with the stress of fighting a
child custody battle may make it difficult to make the decisions that will best protect
your custodial rights in Westchester County, NY. Do not make the mistake
of trying to make these crucial decisions without the assistance of an
experienced child custody attorney.
Contact the Westchester
family law lawyers of
Riebling, Proto & Sachs, LLP for a free consultation. We will discuss your options and help you get
the results that you want.
Call (914) 840-5104.