Keeping Your Child’s Best Interests in Mind During a Divorce

Child Custody Lawyer NYC

Your child’s future is of utmost importance, which is why our NYC child custody attorneys combine unmatched skill and compassion to make sure their voice is heard and your rights are protected in every decision that shapes their tomorrow.

Get Effective Guidance from a NYC Child Custody Lawyer

Family law is already highly stressful, but the stress only multiplies when children are involved. Thankfully, our NYC child custody lawyers understand the anxiety our clients face. We bring a holistic and communicative approach to complex custody issues to reduce stress and pave the way for a positive legal outcome. We’ll get to know you, the issues involved, and your goals for your child and the future.

At Levoritz Law Firm, we provide the full spectrum of legal services in child custody cases. Whether you are seeking custody, negotiating for child support, or trying to get a fair visitation agreement, we are here for you. And if a judge’s decision is unfair to you or it’s not in your child’s best interests, our team is ready to appeal your case in court.

Compassionate and Effective Divorce Representation in New York City

Understanding New York Child Custody Law

In New York City, understanding the various types of child custody is crucial for families navigating the process.

  • Legal Custody

    Legal custody refers to the right to make significant decisions regarding the child’s welfare, including education, health care, and religious upbringing. Joint legal custody allows both parents to share these responsibilities, whereas sole legal custody grants this authority to one parent exclusively.

  • Physical Custody

    Physical custody determines which parent the child will live with. Joint physical custody implies that the child spends significant time with both parents, often on a shared schedule. Sole physical custody means the child resides primarily with one parent — however, the non-custodial parent usually has visitation rights.

  • Sole Custody

    Sole custody encompasses both legal and physical custody, and it describes a case in which the child lives with one parent, and that parent is the sole decision-maker for the child. This option is less common and typically arises when one parent is deemed unfit or unable to care for the child.

  • Joint Custody

    Joint custody can cover custody’s legal and physical aspects, promoting ongoing cooperation between parents. This arrangement requires effective communication and a commitment to the child’s best interests.

  • Visitation

    In cases where sole physical custody is awarded, the non-custodial parent is often granted visitation rights to ensure the child maintains a relationship with both parents.

Factors New York Courts Consider in Determining Custody

When deciding physical and legal custody, judges consider a variety of factors, including:

  • The relationship of the child with each parent
  • Which parent has been the main caregiver
  • Which parent the child spend the most time with
  • The mental and physical health of both parents
  • Whether domestic violence has been an issue
  • The parenting and nurturing skills of both parents
  • The parents’ work schedules
  • Plans of each parent for outside childcare
  • Whether there are siblings involved
  • Whether a child has special needs — if so, the court also considers the ability of each parent to meet these needs

These calculations determine the estimated amount the non-custodial parent should provide as a child suppThese factors all have one thing in common: the child’s best interests. Above all else, this is the most important factor in custody cases.ort payment.

Furthermore, these factors are just some of the elements judges may consider. They will take into account any factors they think are relevant in making custody decisions. For example, depending on a child’s age, they may also consider the child’s preference for living with one parent instead of the other.

While judges do their best to make the right decision, they can potentially make the wrong one. That’s why it’s so important to get help from an experienced child custody attorney in New York. When you choose our firm to represent you, we will effectively present your case and stand up for your rights.

What Is the Process for a Child Custody Proceeding?

Child custody is a legal process that involves several key steps:

  • Filing a Petition: The process starts with one or both parents filing a custody petition that outlines a desired custody arrangement in the county where the child resides. There are five family courts in New York City, including in lower Manhattan, the Bronx, downtown Brooklyn, Jamaica/Queens, and Staten Island.
  • Serving the Petition: The non-filing parent (if both parents do not file the petition together) must be served with the petition, informing them of the custody request and the court date.
  • Court Appearance: Both parents then appear in court. If they agree on custody terms, the judge can make the agreement official. If not, the court may order mediation or a custody evaluation.
  • Mediation/Custody Evaluation: In some cases, disagreements can be handled by a third-party mediator, who will help the parents reach a mutually beneficial arrangement. In contested cases, the court may require a custody evaluation to assess the family situation and recommend the most appropriate arrangement for the child.
  • Trial: If the parents still contest the arrangement, the case may go to trial. Both parents can present evidence, call witnesses, and make their case for the arrangement they believe is right for the child.
  • Judgment: The judge will finally make a decision based on the child’s best interests, considering factors such as the parents` ability to provide for the child, the child’s relationship with each parent, and the child’s home environment stability.
  • Issuance of a Custody Order: The court then issues a legally binding custody order detailing the custody arrangement and visitation schedules (if applicable).

Contact Levoritz Law to Discuss Your NYC Child Custody Case

To get specific answers based on your child custody situation, contact our family law attorneys to arrange a consultation. Once our team understands all the factors in your case, they will advise you about the path forward and what you may expect.

Visitation Time and Parenting Time in Child Custody

Visitation time and parenting time are crucial concepts that shape the time the child spends with each parent.

  • Visitation Time

    Visitation time refers to a schedule the non-custodial parent must abide by when spending time with their child. This term is often used when one parent has sole physical custody, and the other parent has the right to visit with the child at agreed-upon times. 

    Visitation can be unsupervised, allowing the non-custodial parent to spend time with the child without any restrictions, or supervised, where visits occur in the presence of another adult or professional — this is commonly used when the child’s safety and well-being are of particular concern.

  • Parenting Time

    Parenting time is the time that each parent spends with their child. In joint custody arrangements, parenting time should be divided in a way that allows the child to have a significant and ongoing relationship with both parents. 

    The specifics of parenting time can vary widely, taking into account work schedules, the child’s schooling and extracurricular activities, and the geographical distance between the parents’ homes.

Child Custody Modifications

Modifying a child custody agreement is a process that requires demonstrating a significant change in circumstances. At Levoritz Law Firm, we understand that the unpredictable nature of life can often necessitate changes to custody arrangements. Our experienced attorneys are here to guide you through the modification process, making sure your child's best interests are always at the forefront.

Modifications to child custody may be appropriate in various circumstances, including:

  • Changes in living situations: When a parent relocates or when an environment becomes unsafe or unstable for the child.
  • Changes in parental circumstances: Significant changes in a parent's lifestyle, health, employment, or financial status that affect their ability to care for the child.
  • Child's needs: Changes in the child's health, education, or emotional needs that are not met under the current custody arrangement.
  • Parental compliance: Instances where one parent is not adhering to the agreed-upon custody arrangement or is found to be unfit.

To modify a child custody order, the petitioning parent must file a motion with the court, providing evidence of a significant change in circumstances and how the proposed modification serves the child’s best interests. The court will consider the modification in light of the existing order and the change of circumstances — again, with the primary goal being to meet the child’s best interests.

How Our Attorneys Can Assist with Child Custody Matters in NYC

At Levoritz Law Firm in New York City, we assist families with the delicate matter of child custody, bringing both legal acumen and a deep understanding of the emotional complexities involved. Our experienced attorneys are committed to providing personalized, compassionate support tailored to the unique needs of each family. Here’s how we can assist with child custody matters.

  • Skilled Guidance on Custody Types

    We can guide you through the benefits and downsides of various custody arrangements, including legal, physical, joint, and sole custody. Our team will help you understand the implications of each option, ensuring you make informed decisions that best serve your child’s interests.

  • Strategic Advocacy in Custody Disputes

    In contested custody cases, our attorneys provide strategic advocacy to represent your interests and those of your child in negotiations — and, if necessary, in court. We’ll focus on achieving a resolution that prioritizes the child’s well-being while protecting your parental rights.

  • Support Through the Custody Evaluation Process

    Our firm offers thorough support and preparation for contested custody cases that require evaluation. We’ll help you present your case effectively, making sure the evaluator receives a comprehensive understanding of your child’s needs and your ability to meet them.

  • Assistance with Custody Modifications

    Our firm assists with the modification of existing custody orders, helping you navigate the legal requirements to demonstrate a significant change in circumstances and advocate for an arrangement that reflects your child’s needs.

  • Comprehensive Support

    Beyond legal representation, Levoritz Law Firm provides comprehensive support to families navigating child custody matters. From connecting you with resources for emotional support to advising on post-divorce parenting strategies, we are dedicated to ensuring you and your child transition smoothly into the next chapter of your lives.

Why Choose Levoritz Law for Child Custody Proceedings in New York?

Our New York child custody lawyers have extensive resources and skills to help you achieve a favorable outcome that is in your child’s best interests. Here’s what you get when you work with our team:

  • Proficiency in New York family law: We have a deep understanding of New York family law, meaning you benefit from knowledgeable and experienced representation.
  • Tailored legal strategies: We develop customized strategies that reflect your family's unique needs, focusing on the best outcome for your child.
  • Compassionate support: We recognize the emotional complexities of custody disputes, and our approach is rooted in compassion and understanding.
  • Open communication: We’ll keep you informed and involved, making sure you understand every step of the legal process.
  • Comprehensive representation: From negotiation to court proceedings, we offer full-spectrum legal services tailored to child custody matters.
  • Dedication to your family’s future: Every child custody dispute is unique — we will advocate for you to ensure a fair custody arrangement that meets your specific goals and is right for your child.

At Levoritz Law Firm, we combine legal acumen with a personal touch, guiding you through this challenging time with professionalism and empathy — and always with your family’s best interests at heart.

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Meet Our NYC Child Custody Law Team

Serving New York City & The Suburbs

Levoritz Law Firm proudly serves families across New York City and surrounding counties, providing skilled legal guidance wherever you are.

Contact a New York City Child Custody Lawyer Today

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FAQ

  • Can parents make their own custody decisions?

    If parents agree on terms, they can make their own custody decisions. To protect all parties, they’ll typically prepare and have the court approve a parenting plan that lays out specific schedules for when the child will be with each parent. When parents agree, it can be far less stressful for the child.

  • Are mothers favored over fathers in child custody decisions?

    While it was once common for courts to favor mothers over fathers, today’s courtrooms take a much more balanced approach that solely works to meet the child’s best interests. However, unfair court decisions are still made all the time, often due to a judge’s prejudice or implicit bias.

  • If the parents were never married, how does the father ask the court for custody or visitation?

    If an unmarried father wants custody or visitation, paternity must first be established. If both parties agree about paternity, they can sign a voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage form (if it wasn’t already signed at birth). If there is a conflict about paternity, the father can petition the court for a DNA test for the father, mother, and child. Once paternity is proven, fathers can file petitions with the court asking for custody or visitation.

  • What should I do if I don’t think my child is safe with their other parent?

    If you believe your child is in immediate danger, you should call 911. If the danger isn’t immediate but you don’t believe your child is generally safe with their other parent, you must prove your suspicions to the court. This can result in the revocation of custody or a modification that dictates that another adult must supervise the other parent during visits with the child.

  • How can I have a custody or visitation order changed?

    If your life circumstances have sufficiently changed, you can file a modification order with the court that issued the original order. Depending on the circumstances and the child’s best interests, the court may approve or disapprove the modification. 

    Reasons parents may ask for modifications include out-of-state moves, changed financial situations, health problems, domestic violence, and other issues.

  • Can anyone other than a parent get custody of a child?

    Yes. Individuals other than a parent (such as grandparents or other close relatives) can be granted custody in certain circumstances. This usually occurs if the court determines that living with either parent would be detrimental to the child’s welfare.

  • Can a child decide who they wish to live with?

    While a judge may consider the child’s preference in custody decisions, it is not the sole factor. The court prioritizes the child’s best interests, considering various factors like each parent’s ability to provide a stable and supportive environment.