Child custody

Long Island Child Custody Lawyers

What are the Custody Types in New York?

There are two types of custody in New York: physical or residential custody, which is the physical place the child will reside, and legal custody, or the parent who has the responsibility to make important decisions on behalf of their child.

These are further broken down into joint and sole custody:

  • The New York Family Courts often prefer a joint custody arrangement.
  • Sole custody may be awarded when one parent does not want custody, when there is abuse or neglect, or when one parent is otherwise found to be unfit. Sole custody does not have an impact on child support, and non-custodial parents can seek visitation rights, with or without special circumstances such as supervision.

There may also be cases where neither parent is fit. In these cases, grandparents, aunts and/or uncles, or other close or distant relatives can petition the court for custody, if it’s in the child’s best interest.

If you are going through a divorce or legal separation and you and your spouse have minor children, custody is a vital, and often contested, part of the proceedings. It is important to keep the needs and best interests of your child at the forefront of your decisions, and our Long Island child custody lawyers can help.

How Do New York Courts Make Custody Decisions?

The court will seek to protect the child’s best interests, and minors are under the court’s jurisdiction when deciding on an arrangement. Older children may offer their preferences, which will be taken into account.

Parent with custody It’s a common belief that mothers are more likely to get custody in divorce or separation cases. The reality is that cases are more complicated than that, and the New York Family courts looks at many factors before deciding on a custody arrangement in any specific case.

New York family law courts take many issues into consideration when determining the child’s best interests in a custody matter, these include:

  • The child(ren)’s age
  • Any special needs
  • If one parent acted as the primary caregiver during the marriage
  • Demonstrated parenting skills of both parents
  • Each parent’s physical and mental health
  • If there is any history of abuse or neglect
  • Any job demands for either parent
  • Proposed childcare plans
  • The child’s preference, if they are old enough to express one

Is New York a 50/50 Custody State?

No, 50/50 custody is not the default custody arrangement in New York state. If it is in the best interests of the child for legal and physical custody to be split evenly, then the judge will order that. However, there are a variety of factors that go into determining custody, and the orders will look different case by case. In some cases, legal custody will be split evenly, while one parent has more physical custody than the other. Ultimately, the court will do what it believes is best for the child.

What Constitutes an Unfit Parent in New York?

A parent might be disqualified from the right to custody if deemed an “unfit” parent in New York. Deciding that a parent is unfit for custody is not a decision made lightly. There must be proof that the parent is unfit and removing custody is in the child’s best interests.

The following factors could be used when deciding if a parent is unfit:

  • If the parent can care for the child independently
  • If the parent can reasonably cooperate with the other parent and resolve conflicts that arise
  • If the parent has a history of child abuse
  • If the parent has a history of domestic violence
  • If the parent struggles with or has struggled with substance abuse
  • If the parent has a mental illness
  • What the parent’s social life looks like and how that might affect the child
  • How the child feels towards the parent (such as comfortableness or fear)
  • If the parent sets age-appropriate limits (such as the age of the child and the types of movies the child can watch, curfew, etc.)
  • If the parent can respond to the child’s needs (such as being sensitive, communicative, and responsive)

Contact Horn & Horn.ESQS for a Free Consultation

Our Long Island child custody attorneys have represented many clients in their custody battles by drawing from our considerable experience and deep understanding of how the family court system works.


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Hauppauge, New York 11788