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Suffolk County Child Custody Lawyer

Guiding Families Through Child Custody Matters in in New York

The future of your children is of ultimate concern in any divorce case. Will parenting duties be shared by both parents? Will each parent have the right to make critical decisions about the child’s life in education, medical decisions, religion, and more? What happens if one parent wants to relocate? Some child custody cases can be resolved amicably between the two parents, but many cases are hotly disputed. Whatever your situation, of the many factors that could affect the outcome of your custody case, the best interests of your child is the most significant factor in the eyes of the court.

You need an attorney who thinks in this same way. If you are facing a child custody issue in Suffolk County, our firm can assist you in upholding your rights to preserve your child’s best interests.


Are you dealing with a custody dispute? Our Suffolk County child custody attorney is here to help you. Call Kuhn & Sandler, PLLC today at (631) 629-6874 or contact us online to start your legal journey.


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Discover what our top-rated child custody attorney may be able to help you.

Is NY a 50/50 Custody State?

No, New York is not a 50/50 custody state.

In New York, the court will consider all relevant factors in determining what is in the best interests of the child, including the wishes of the parents, the child's relationship with each parent, the parent's ability to provide for the child's needs, and the stability of the child's environment. While 50/50 custody is often the best option for children, it is only sometimes the case.

The court will decide based on what is best for the individual child.

You must speak with our experienced Suffolk County family law attorney to discuss your options and get help making the best decisions for your child.

Does New York Favor Mothers or Fathers in Custody Cases?

One of the first questions many parents have when navigating a custody battle is whether their state favors the mother or the father. In New York, neither parent has a greater right to custody.

However, fathers must sign an Acknowledgment of Custody, receive an Order of Filiation, or be listed as the child's father on the birth certificate to file a custody case with the court. Birth mothers do not face the same requirements (since they gave biological birth to the child), although adoptive mothers may.

That doesn't necessarily mean New York courts are always impartial. Legal scholars are critical of New York's status as only two states with no statutes in place governing how courts should handle shared parenting (Rhode Island is the other). While several shared parenting bills have been introduced, none of them have passed yet.

For this reason, it's imperative that parents engaged in custody disputes retain the counsel of an experienced custody lawyer.

A skilled custody lawyer can help you advocate for your parental rights and build a strong case, minimizing the chance of court-related bias playing a role in the case.

Factors Influencing Child Custody Decisions in New York

If you are facing a child custody dispute, it is important that you are familiar with the New York child custody laws.

In New York there are several types of child custody that can be awarded including sole custody, joint custody, and even third party custody.

  • The best interests of the child
  • Which parent acted as the primary caretaker before the divorce
  • The physical and mental well-being of each parent
  • If either parent has a dependency on drugs or alcohol
  • If there was any history of domestic violence
  • What the work schedules are for each parent
  • The relationship that the child has with each parent and their siblings
  • If each parent is able to encourage the child to have a relationship with the other parent

The court prefers to award joint custody if it is in the best interest of the child. However, if the court finds that one parent is not "fit" to care and provide for the child, that parent could be awarded visitation rights or supervised visitation.

If both parents are unfit to care for the child, then custody could be awarded to a third party such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or sibling.

Criteria for Determining Parental Fitness

New York courts use a variety of criteria to decide whether a parent is fit to act as a caregiver, some of which we covered earlier on this page. Courts examine the following factors when determining the fitness of a parent:

  • Stability
  • Childcare arrangements
  • Caretaker status
  • Substance use
  • Mental health
  • Physical health
  • Spousal abuse
  • Abuse, neglect, abandonment, or other interference with visitation responsibilities
  • Home environment
  • Child's testimony

What Does it Mean When a Parent is Deemed Unfit?

If a parent fails to meet the court's expectations for the above criteria (for example, having a dangerous home environment, being financially unstable, lacking mental or physical well-being, abusing substances, etc.), the court may determine that parent is "unfit" to act as a caregiver.

Depending on the circumstances of the case, the court may restrict custody or visitation rights for the unfit parent, or may remove their custody/visitation rights entirely.

At What Age Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With in NY?

A child is no longer subject to a custody order at 18.

Therefore they can choose which parent they want to live within NY. At the same time, many courts will only be able to influence the choice of a 16 or 17-year-old if the teenager has serious problems or their choice seems unreasonable.

If you believe your child's other parent is unfit to act as a caregiver, you should consult your lawyer. They can help you build a case that illustrates the other parent's inability to act in the child's best interests, increasing your chances of receiving a favorable outcome in your custody case.

Similarly, if you're wrongfully accused of being an unfit parent, a child custody lawyer can help you effectively combat those accusations.

Contact Our Suffolk County Child Custody Lawyer Today

In any child custody case, there are several possible arrangements of legal custody and physical custody. Many parents choose to maintain two households, with custody of the children shared on alternating weeks or on some other parenting schedule.

Even when a case is resolved with one parent gaining physical custody of the children, the other parent typically has the right to visitation.

While of course the outcome of the case is important, the manner in which a child custody case is resolved can be of paramount value. Cases of this importance should be managed by a high quality Suffolk County divorce lawyer, such as Kuhn & Sandler, PLLC.

Backed by over three decades of legal experience, we know how to resolve difficult custody matters before they escalate to a trial. Don’t hesitate to discover what our skilled, compassionate negotiator can achieve for you and your loved ones.

Request your free case evaluation today!

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