Parents Facing Custody Concerns
Parenting our children is the most important responsibility we have when we bring children into the world. Working with clients on their relationships as co-parents is something I take very personally. I know that with a dedicated support system and a shared love for your children it is possible to raise strong, healthy, adjusted children even after a divorce. I see examples of this in the families I work with as well as in my personal life. I am committed to counseling my clients with this in mind.
Divorce can be an extraordinarily difficult time for a family. Your children have no doubt been affected by the ongoing conflict, emotional separation, and physical transition of divorce. At Erin Colgan Law we believe that when our clients understand and anticipate what they will face, particularly when children are involved, they are able to evaluate their options and plan for the impact of their divorce on their children as well as their wider family unit. We try very hard to be child centric as we believe at Erin Colgan Law that children only experience childhood once, and that divorce can be challenging enough without having an attorney create additional conflict. We strongly urge clients to redefine themselves and their soon-to- be former spouse as “co-parents” so that their children may transition as easily as possible with the benefit of two motivated and involved parents who respect one another and present as a unified team.
We help clients protect their interests as they navigate the Staten Island divorce and child custody process. Too often discussions related to children are highly emotional, with each parent coming to the table with their desired outcomes and hope to continue the status quo relationship. Sometimes we need to work with therapists and other professionals to develop new roles for each parent so that one parent doesn’t bear the burden of all obligations regarding the children and the other parent doesn’t feel that they are just an ATM machine. We look to have the parents buy-in to a new role as divorced parents during mediation and in the divorce context, we try to tailor our settlement negotiations around this premise and work together with our adversaries to make the children’s well-being of paramount importance.
In order to focus on the child’s best interest, we encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation and collaborative divorce. Erin Colgan Law help clients reach child custody agreements based on the child’s best interest standard, not solely based on the wishes or preferences of the parents. Thus, enabling the spouses to reach a child custody agreement outside the courtroom that will be approved by the court.
Some of the factors taken into consideration related to a Parenting agreement include designation of the parent with primary physical custody (where a child primarily resides); designation of how decisions are made (I.e., joint custody); the nature of the shared parenting time; and visitation or parenting access schedules for the non-custodial parent. In addition, the age of each child and the child’s preferences, environmental factors such as the primary parents school district, safety of the neighborhood, proximity to after school activities, and the stability of each parent background, lifestyle, or job are also considered. We also stress that it is highly unlikely that one parent will be making 100% of decisions for the children.
Fast Fact: Nontraditional work schedules are taken into consideration when determining child custody agreements.
Erin Colgan Law frequently works with divorcing government and public sector employees, and especially the police, firefighter, and first responder community on Staten Island that work outside of traditional nine to five work schedules. Their shifts and schedules may be unpredictable, are frequently longer, and may include overtime shifts that can impact the ability to pick up and drop off children at designated times. In these instances, a child custody schedule is developed that works for all parties to the divorce – wife, husband, children. Coming to the negotiation table with a work schedule in hand helps to develop a schedule that works for all.
In some instances, after a divorce is finalized, the situation may dictate that the agreed upon child custody agreement be re-assessed. Erin Colgan Law assists clients with issues including changes in the child’s environment, making it unsafe; an uncooperative parent withholding access to information about the child’s medical record or issues at school; the repercussions when one parent wants to relocate; visitation disruptions; or combative, abusive, controlling former spouses refusing to abide by the custody agreement. Judges do reserve the right to change custody and Erin Colgan Law does assist past or new clients in this situation.