New York State has a gender neutral custody law. There is no longer a presumption that either parent should have custody of the children. Both parents have equal rights to seek custody of their children. It should be noted equal rights to obtain custody is not the same standard as to what is in the children’s best interests. Courts determine who receives custody of the parties’ children based on what is in the children’s best interest.
Legal custody of children is usually determined by a proceeding in front of a judge. Courts seek to avoid issuing court orders awarding joint custody to parents.
There is a Court of Appeals decision (the highest court in the State of New York) which states joint custody is encouraged primarily as a voluntary alternative for relatively stable, amicable parents behaving in a mature civilized fashion. Situations where the parents do not get along, are not communicative with each other, are not right for joint ustody arrangements.
Quality Time with Children
Joint custody arrangements tend to work out when the children are very young. As children grow older they develop their own social circles and own friendships. Joint custody arrangements tend to get in the way of the children’s lives. Some studies have found it is not necessarily a benefit to the children for them to spend equal time with both parents.
Many parents seek to have equal parenting time with their children. It seems to meet the parents’ needs to develop a strong relationship with their children. However, giving each parent equal time with their children does not necessarily work out to be in the children’s best interest and equal parenting time arrangements generally break down as the children mature and go through puberty.
Elliot S. Schlissel, Esq. is managing partner of Schlissel DeCorpo LLP. He has been representing parents in custody disputes for more than 30 years. He can be reached at 800-344-6431 or e-mailed at: Elliot@sdnylaw.com.