Staten Island Child Custody and Parenting Agreements
Child custody can be one of the most difficult and emotional aspects of divorce, as it involves making decisions about the care and welfare of your children. It can be difficult to come to an agreement with your ex-spouse about how custody will be arranged, and it can be even more challenging to navigate the legal process and make sure that your rights as a parent are protected. However, it is important to keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to do what is best for your children and to come to a custody arrangement that is in their best interests.
At Erin Colgan Law, we know that it is a challenging time for you and your family. Divorce is a time of transition, and our goal is to protect you and your family while coaching you to heal and step into your new life chapter. Our legal team is committed to treating your case with the care and respect it deserves. As a client, we will work with you to understand the legal process and your divorce options. Once decided, we coach you to be mindful of your children’s best interests throughout the divorce process and to reach a custody agreement that meets the unique needs of your family as efficiently as possible.
Preserving your relationship with your children and prioritizing their best interests during the process is vital. We help you identify your soon to be former spouse as your co-parent and give you the tools to start building a new relationship that is child focused. If you are considering divorce, call our office to schedule a consultation with Erin Colgan, Esq., Staten Island’s premier divorce and child custody lawyer at 718-981-5505. Our legal team can help you begin the process with a confidential consultation.
Child Custody and Divorce Mediation
Reaching a custody arrangement that meets the needs of your family can sometimes be challenging. Parents who can work together to come to an amicable agreement on custody arrangements can generally resolve their case relatively quickly. If your divorce is amicable, you may want to consider the benefits of divorce mediation in developing a workable solution to parent access. This is a private process that uses a neutral third-party called a mediator to guide the discussion and resolution for child custody, and other key issues associated with ending the marriage, to achieve a mutually agreed upon divorce settlement.
Erin K. Colgan, Esq. is a certified mediator and since 2004 she has successfully mediated hundreds of divorce cases in Staten Island. Generally, couples that choose mediation to end the marriage and determine custody arrangements will experience a smoother, faster and less expensive divorce than those who choose contested or uncontested divorce in New York.
New York Child Custody Arrangements
Parents who disagree on child custody arrangements may need to resolve their differences in the courtroom. A Staten Island judge will ultimately decide where the children reside and how decisions are made if you and the other parent cannot reach an agreement. The judge may appoint an Attorney for the Children and our law firm will help to explain this process to you to help manage your expectations and what you and your children will face in this process. A court may also order a forensic psychologist or psychiatrist to assist the judge in making a custody determination. If you find yourself in a situation where custody litigation in unavoidable, consider reaching out to Erin Colgan Law as we are familiar and experienced in this arena and will give you guidance and insight to help you through this difficult time.
Like most states, New York courts evaluate the entire family dynamic and draft child custody orders based on what they perceive as being in the “best interests of the child.” The goal of a New York judge is to provide the child with the most stable environment possible that promotes healthy relationships and interactions between the child and their parents. Although the phrase “in the best interests of the child” is broad, there are certain factors that a judge considers when crafting a child custody arrangement. These factors can include:
- Financial stability of each parent
- The child’s emotional bond with each parent
- The child’s age and mental and physical health
- Each parent’s ability to provide the child with basic needs
- The physical and mental health of each parent
- The living situation of each parent
- Each parent’s willingness to foster a good relationship between the child and the other parent
- Each parent’s history of physical or emotional abuse or domestic violence
Although the list is comprehensive, a Staten Island judge can consider other factors if they believe those factors impact a child’s quality of life. If circumstances for one or both parents change, custody order can be modified by the court down the road.
It is important to remember that there are no winners in litigation when it comes to children and our firm will continuously advise you with your children’s well-being in mind.
Physical vs. Legal Custody in Staten Island
In a child custody arrangement, there are two main types of custody: physical or residential custody and legal custody, otherwise known as decision making. Physical custody refers to where the child will live and who will be responsible for their day-to-day care. Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as what school they will attend, what medical treatment they will receive, and what extracurricular activities they will participate in.
It is possible for one parent to have sole physical custody, meaning that the child lives with that parent most of the time, while the other parent has visitation rights, otherwise known as parenting access on certain days. It is also possible for both parents to have joint physical custody, in which the child shares their time between both homes.
Legal custody can also be granted on a sole or joint basis. If one parent has sole legal custody, they have the sole authority to make decisions about the child’s upbringing. If both parents have joint legal custody, they must make major decisions about the child’s upbringing together. Typically, if domestic violence is present in the home, the parties will not be candidates for joint custody.
In many cases, New York courts want to foster and encourage healthy relationships between a child and both parents. However, sole physical and legal custody may be in the best interest of the child when one parent has a history of abuse, domestic violence, or neglect.
Parental Visitation Rights
In cases where one parent has sole physical custody, the other parent is typically granted visitation rights. Depending on the situation, the non-custodial parent may be guaranteed a parenting schedule that outlines the times they are allowed to visit the child. It is uncommon for a judge to refuse visitation rights to a parent unless there is a history of violent behavior or neglect.
If a judge has concerns about child safety, they may opt to allow supervised visitation rights. Generally, these visits are monitored by a third-party individual or occur at an agency where social workers can supervise the interactions between the parent and child.
Child Support Arrangements
In addition to child custody arrangements, a judge may also review the terms of child support. In New York, child support is largely determined by the income of both parents. A judge may also factor in the physical and mental healthcare needs. In most situations, the non-custodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent. Child support is money meant to help meet the needs of the child and maintain the lifestyle they are accustomed to living post-divorce.
New York has a child support calculator to help parents estimate the amount of child support they may need to pay following a divorce. This tool gives parents a rough idea of what to expect, but unless there is an agreement, a judge ultimately decides the amount of child support a parent needs to pay.
Reach Out to a Skilled Family Law Attorney Today for Help
As a parent, you want to do what’s best for your child. If you are going through divorce, that often means hiring an attorney to help you sort through your child custody options and help protect the best interests of you and your family. Our experienced family law team wants to help you maintain your special relationship with your child as your family dynamic changes.
If you are considering filing for divorce, take steps now to protect yourself and your children. Discuss your situation with Erin K. Colgan, Esq., Staten Island’s premier family law attorney and certified mediator. To set up a confidential consultation, call our office at 718-981-5505 today.