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How Is Child Custody and Visitation Determined in New York State?

Child custody is by far the most contentious area of divorce law. In previous years, the issues of child custody and visitation were simply solved by near-unilateral maternal custody. However, this is no longer the case. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there was a 27 percent increase in single-father households from the year 2000 to 2010. This is in large part due to a nationwide decrease in gender bias during custody proceedings.

Custody and visitation determinations in New York State involve mediation or court proceedings:

Child custody and visitation mediation

A mediation proceeding is where the spouses meet with a trained neutral third party to help resolve their child custody and visitation disputes. The mediation process is completely voluntary and confidential. If the parties reach an agreement, it is then sent for court approval and becomes a court order. Mediation benefits divorcing families because it helps dispel the tension and animosity that often accompanies a litigated proceeding. The parties collaborate and set the groundwork for an optimal co-parenting environment.

Child custody and visitation litigation

If the parties are unwilling or unable to come to an agreement regarding child custody or visitation, the issue must be decided by the court. When this occurs, the court looks to a number of different factors, including:

  • The mental and physical state of both the parents and the child
  • The parenting skills of each parent
  • Which parent previously served as the main caregiver to the child
  • Each parent’s work schedule and child care arrangements
  • The child’s relationship with family members
  • The wishes of the child, if permitted by age and maturity
  • Each parent’s ability to foster a continuing child-parent relationship with the other parent, safety permitting
  • Any incidents of domestic violence by either parent

If you are facing an upcoming divorce, you need an experienced child custody attorney to help you gain a favorable custody and visitation order.  The right attorney can make all the difference in your custody and visitation dispute. Contact an experienced Staten Island family lawyer today to discuss your case.

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