Hudson Valley Child Custody Lawyer
Your Aggressive Child Custody Advocates Serving Dutchess County, New York
Custody disputes are stressful and emotionally charged. If you are involved in a custody dispute in Dutchess County, it is important to understand New York custody laws. The Hudson Valley child custody lawyers at Letterio & Haug, LLP have nearly two decades of combined experience and an extensive knowledge of divorce and child custody laws to effectively advocate for you in court.
If you are involved in a child custody dispute in Dutchess County, contact our firm in Beacon, NY, to learn how New York custody law applies to your situation.
New York Custody Laws
In New York, courts can make decisions about child custody until that child is 18 years old. New York Courts use the standard of the best interests of the child when making custody decisions. The courts may take a variety of factors into consideration when awarding custody.
Factors considered by New York Courts include:
- The ability of each parent to care for the child
- The mental and physical well-being of each parent
- Work schedules
- The ability of parents to cooperate
- Any history of domestic violence
- The child’s wishes, depending on their age
Note that one parent does not have advantage over the other in custody decisions in New York. The child can remain living with either parent until the case goes to court, and an order has been issued. As always, the orders will be made based on the child's best interests.
Each family situation is unique, and our Hudson Valley child custody attorneys provide personalized representation for each client. We are aggressive advocates for our clients. We take the time to understand your situation and provide compassionate and empathetic legal representation that is tailored to your circumstances.
Filing for Child Custody in NY
A parent, grandparent or a person with a substantial relationship with the child may file a petition for custody with the family court in the county where the child resides. It is free to file a petition with the New York family court. Once the petition has been filed, a copy of the petition and a summons must be served to whoever currently has custody of the child.
There are two basic types of custody: Legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the right to make decisions regarding the child’s education, medical care, and religious upbringing. Physical custody is where the child will live. Sole custody is when custody is awarded to one parent. In joint custody, the parents share custody of the children.
Legal Custody Versus Physical Custody
A parent who has legal custody can make decisions for the child’s care. This can include the child’s education, medical needs, and religion. Should the court issue a joint legal custody arrangement, both parents can make these decisions. If the courts issue “sole legal custody,” then only one parent is permitted to make these decisions.
This is a different arrangement from physical custody, which is also called “residential custody.” In this scenario, the child lives with the parent who has physical custody. Sole physical custody means that the child will live with that parent more than 50% of the time, and the other parent may have visitation rights. In a joint physical custody arrangement, the child lives with both parents. One example is when the child lives with one parent for a week, and then live with the other parent the next week, and so forth.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Can Get Custody of a Child?
Typically, either parent may receive custody of their child. One parent’s right to custody is not greater than the other parent’s right. However, the right to the care and custody of a minor child is not limited to parents. In certain circumstances, nonparents—such as grandparents, relatives, and others—can obtain custody of a child if doing so would be in the child’s best interests.
How Do I Prepare for a Custody Hearing?
- Show that you are responsible and involved: If you have a temporary custody order in place, make sure you stick to it and avoid skipping scheduled visitation. Show you are reliable and responsible by picking up and dropping off your children on time. Additionally, if your children partake in afterschool activities, attend them to show you are engaged in their lives.
- Make sure your home is safe and supportive: The home environment you provide for your children must be safe, loving, and supportive. If other individuals frequently visit your home, vet them. Anyone with a felony or a history of drug use should not be invited into your home. It would also be unwise to invite a new romantic partner to live with you or spend the night until after your divorce is finalized.
- Exhibit good character: Showcasing good character is also crucial in a child custody case. Arguing with your ex in public or disparaging him or her to your children are not examples of showing good character. No matter how angry you are, a judge will not view this in a favorable light.
- Work with your attorney: Your divorce attorney is looking out for you. However, to provide the services you need, it is essential for you to be entirely honest and avoid omitting important details. Regardless of the shame you might feel regarding some of the parenting mistakes you made in the past, you need to share them with your attorney. Lying will harm your chances of obtaining the custody arrangement you desire.
- Do not be an uncooperative co-parent: Family courts generally believe the continued involvement of both parents is in the best interests of the children. If a judge believes you are being unsupportive of your children’s relationship with your ex, you will feel the negative consequences of it in court.
Can I Change the Terms of My Child Custody Arrangement?
Yes. A party can ask the court to modify the terms of an existing child custody order upon proof that there was a substantial change of circumstances since the court rendered its custody order. For example, if a parent needs to move to a different city, county, or state, their relocation can serve as a substantial change of circumstances that justifies changing a custody order so they can reasonably comply with its terms.
Can I Refuse to Allow Visitation for Unpaid Child Support?
No. A parent’s right to maintain a relationship with their children and spend time parenting them is not conditioned on their child support payment history. As a result, a parent may not deny another parent’s right to spend time with their child because they have otherwise failed to pay child support. A parent who does interfere with another person’s custodial or visitation rights may be subject to legal sanctions, possibly risking their own custodial rights under the existing custody agreement.
What Is Child Visitation?
In cases involving custodial arrangements where a child lives with one parent most of the time, the other parent can spend time with their child on certain days. This is known as “visitation” because the parent spends less parenting time with the child. This right stems from a parent’s right to maintain a close relationship with their children. A parent’s visitation rights are typically outlined in a visitation schedule that either the parties prepare or the court determines in a child custody case.
Can One Parent Move Away With the Child?
If the parent with physical custody wants to move somewhere that affects the other parent’s visitation, they must have permission from the other parent or the court before moving.
You can request permission from the court to relocate with your child by filing a custody modification petition with the help of the Beacon child custody lawyers at Letterio & Haug, LLP.
Put Experienced Beacon Child Custody Attorneys on Your Side
Our Hudson Valley child custody lawyer is ready to help you navigate the New York child custody process. Get started today by scheduling an initial consultation!
Do I Really Need A Lawyer For Child Custody?
If you are unsure about your case or your chances at winning the custody arrangement, then hiring a child custody lawyer is going to be your strongest option. An attorney can work on your behalf to compromise, which keeps you focused on your family.
Contact our Beacon child custody lawyers to schedule a consultation. We serve the counties of Dutchess, Putnam, Ulster, and Orange, and beyond.
At Letterio & Haug, LLP, our attorneys have more than two decades of combined legal experience, as well as a lengthy track record of success. Over the years, we have successfully helped countless individuals resolve a wide variety of legal problems. To see how we assisted our past clients, feel free to browse through our clients’ testimonials here. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us today at 845-203-0997 and schedule a consultation.
“Passionate, committed, diligent, and very client orientated and driven.”- Eileen C.
“They have made a lifelong client out of me.”- Mike
“I cannot think of any attorney I would rather have represent me.”- Michael G.
“An amazing lawyer who genuinely cared about me!”- Kris F.
“We could not be happier with the results. Highly recommend!”- Jenna C.