Child custody is one of the most difficult family law matters in Suffolk County. Whether you are considering divorce or are an unmarried parent seeking custody of your children, the child custody attorneys at Macedonio & Duncan, LLP can help.
We know that there is nothing more important than your relationship with your children and will work to protect your parental rights. While custody issues can often be settled through the mediation process, custody disputes must be resolved by the family court.
Regardless of your circumstances, we will help you find a solution that works best for you and your family. Contact our Central Islip office today to schedule your initial consultation.
Types of Child Custody Arrangements in Suffolk County
Generally, there are two types of custody arrangements:
- Legal custody — The authority of each parent to make decisions for the child on matters such as education, religious upbringing, medical care, and extracurricular activities
- Physical custody — This is also referred to as residential custody because it means determining which parent the child will live with and the visitation rights of the noncustodial parent.
Additionally, custody can be divided into sole and joint custody. While the court typically prefers joint legal custody arrangements, joint physical custody will only be awarded if the parents can reach an agreement on how overnights, weekends, and holidays will be shared. Finally, the court may award sole physical custody if there is evidence of abuse or neglect or one parent is deemed to be unfit.
How the Suffolk County Family Court Resolves Custody Cases
Ultimately, the court will make custody determinations that are in the best interests of the children, based on factors such as:
- The child’s physical, emotional, and social needs
- Whether one parent has been the primary caregiver
- The parenting skills of each parent
- The mental and physical health of each parent
- The child’s relationships with siblings and other family members
- Each parent’s willingness to foster a close relationship between the child and the other parent
- The child’s preferences, depending on the child’s age
- Evidence of domestic violence or child abuse
- Alcohol or drug abuse by either parent
Under the New York State Domestic Relations Law, neither parent has an automatic right to custody of their children, and the court recognizes the equal parental rights of mothers and fathers. While the court cannot terminate a parent’s rights in a custody proceeding, it can restrict access to the child if there is evidence of child abuse, domestic violence, or substance abuse.
Child Custody Modifications
After custody arrangements have been determined, there may be situations in which a custody order needs to be modified. To do so, you must be able to demonstrate that you have experienced a significant change in circumstances. Some of the reasons to modify a child custody order include:
- The custodial parent’s need to relocate to another city or state for his or her job
- The custodial parent’s failure to make the child available for visitation
- Remarriage of either parent that materially affects the child’s well-being
- Abuse or neglect by either parent
- Alcohol or drug abuse by either parent
Modifying a child custody order is a serious consideration and any changes must be in the best interests of the child.
Why You Need a Child Custody Lawyer
At Macedonio & Duncan, LLP, we believe that parents can and should resolve child custody issues outside of court. We can help to negotiate custody arrangements through the mediation process that benefit the entire family and will be approved by the court. At the same time, our attorneys know that making co-parenting arrangements can be difficult and depends on factors such as:
- Whether one parent will continue living in the family home
- Whether the parents will be living close to one another
- How parenting time and visitation rights are determined
In any event, the parties must reach an agreement before a divorce will be granted. If an agreement cannot be reached or there is evidence of child abuse or domestic violence, our trial lawyers are well-equipped to litigate in family court. Above all, we will work to protect your parental rights and the best interests of your children.
Contact Our Experienced Suffolk County Child Custody Attorneys
Whether you need to resolve child custody issues as part of a divorce proceeding or paternity action, you need the informed representation that Macedonio & Duncan, LLP provides. We pride ourselves on helping our clients find amicable solutions while working to preserve their parental rights.
At the same time, we know that there are circumstances when contested custody is inevitable.
Trust our legal team to tailor a solution to your unique needs and work with you to achieve your goals. We understand how challenging family transitions can be and will provide you with the knowledge, compassion, and personal attention you deserve. Contact our office today to speak with an experienced child custody lawyer.