How will a New York court decide my child custody matter?

Aside from matters relating to money and assets, the biggest area of disagreement in New York divorce cases relates to child custody. This is because, when it comes to children, emotions and feelings run hot.

As difficult as child custody issues can be, parents are well-served if they can come to agreement and reach an out-of-court settlement — as it will save them time, money and stress in the long run. However, sometimes parents need to take their child custody cases to court.

How will a court decide your child custody case?

There’s no easy answer to the question of how a court will decide your child custody case, but one thing is certain: Divorce litigation is expensive, stressful and time-consuming. By reaching an out-of-court settlement, parents will avoid the high financial costs of court proceedings and they will also protect themselves and the rest of their families from the tragic stresses that come with a contentious child custody battle.

When parents can’t come to an agreement and litigation is necessary, here are a few things to consider:

The primary caretaker has more power: The primary caretaker of your children has more power during a divorce case. The primary caretaker is whichever parent spent more time tending to the needs of the children. Which parent drove the kids to school? Which parent prepared their meals? Which parent tucked them in at night? Which parent changed the diapers and attended school events? These questions and more will help courts determine who was the primary caretaker. Sometimes it’s both parents equally.

The best interests of the child takes precedence: New York courts will always rule in favor of the child’s best interests. Since courts believe that the best interests of children are served when they spend as much time as possible with both parents, this could mean a joint custody relationship. However, when parents can’t agree with one another, the court may see this as problematic for shared parenting. In these cases, one parent could receive visitation rights while the other parent receives sole physical custody.

Are you in the throes of a child custody battle?

If you and the other parent of your child can’t agree on child custody, it’s important to review all of your litigation options. When formulating your legal strategy, be sure to align your interests with the best interests of your child and gather evidence that shows the level of your participation in child care activities.