Family-Focused Custody And Visitation Representation In New York City

When parents divorce, the most difficult legal matters they face usually involve the children. The same applies to unmarried parents who are separating and need to determine who will get custody of the children.

If you need legal guidance for a child custody matter in New York, attorney Kamelia “Mia” Poppe and her team at The Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC, are here for you. She has extensive experience handling complex and contentious child custody cases, including those involving international child custody and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).

Reach out to us today online or by telephone at 646-665-3903 to arrange a free initial consultation with an experienced New York child custody attorney.

How Is Legal Custody And Physical Custody Determined In A Child Custody Case?

Divorces in which child custody is a focus of conflict between the parties are frequently acrimonious and coupled with high levels of emotion. The reasons for this are clear to lawyers and nonlawyers alike. As human beings, we are deeply aware that raising children gives deep meaning to our lives. Our children are our legacy.

In determining custody, the courts have one overarching priority: the best interest of the child(ren). Determining their best interests involves a multifaceted inquiry, examining factors such as:

  • The quality of the home and guidance that each parent can give the child
  • Each parent’s readiness to assist with the child’s emotional and intellectual growth
  • The fitness of each parent
  • The impact that a custody award given to either parent might have on the child’s ongoing connection with their other parent

Legally speaking, child custody has two aspects:

  • Physical or residential custody
  • Legal custody, also referred to as legal decision-making

Except in egregious circumstances, both parents should remain involved in their children’s lives.

Exploring The Meaning Of Physical Custody

Physical custody, also called residential custody, generally addresses the question of which parent the child(ren) will live with or hold primary residence with, and which parent is responsible for their day-to-day care. The courts recognize the importance of both parents playing a meaningful role in the child’s life. If parents share joint physical custody, the child will spend significant periods of time living with each parent.

In determining physical custody, most courts place significant importance on which parent has been the primary caregiver prior to the divorce or separation. While joint physical custody arrangements do not typically result in a 50-50 share, the courts do favor the noncustodial parent being more than just a weekend mom or dad.

Physical or residential custody also typically has an impact on the question of who will be the payor and who will be the recipient for any child support awarded.

A Look At Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to the parent having legal authority to make decisions over important aspects of the child’s life, including education, health care, religion and general welfare. Legal custody also means that the parent will have access to school and medical documents. In most cases, parents share legal custody, even if one parent has primary physical custody. In contrast with physical custody, legal custody has nothing to do with where the child lives.

Our courts have a significant history of denying shared decision-making when the level of animosity between the parents is at an untenable level. Court cases that have held the position that joint legal custody is not appropriate when domestic violence or high levels of conflict exist include Fountain v Fountain, 130 AD3d 1107, 1108–09 [3d Dept 2015]; W. v Vanderhorst, 92 AD3d 615, 616 [1st Dept 2012]; and Jacobson v Wilkinson, 128 AD3d 1335, 1336 [4th Dept 2015].

When Mia is the attorney in a client’s custody case, she tries to spare the child(ren) from the stress and acrimony of a prolonged legal dispute. She is a strong supporter of the concept of the best interests of the child and uses her experience to help resolve each child custody dispute in an amicable, cost-effective manner. She handles a broad range of child custody matters, including modification and enforcement of orders, as well as grandparents’ rights.

Shared Parenting: Keeping The Child’s Needs Front And Center

Many recognize that children benefit from having a meaningful relationship with both parents. Today, more and more parents are opting to engage in residential arrangements whereby the parents both live in close proximity to the children’s school. Sometimes parents move in and out of the same house on a regular basis or even share a large house although they are divorced or separated as a couple. This type of shared parenting requires mature co-parenting.

Co-parenting arrangements emphasize the goal of making child-focused shared parenting a reality. In the past, one parent, usually the mother, would get physical custody of the child, and the other parent would have visitation privileges. Co-parenting broadens the role of the noncustodial parent so that both parents are meaningfully engaged in the growth and happiness of their children.

Frequently Asked Questions About Child Custody And Visitation

Two contentious aspects of family law are child custody and visitation. This concerns which parent the child lives with day-to-day and what visitation rights the other parent has. Here are some common questions we hear:

Can domestic violence change the outcome of a custody case?

The family court in New York City always prioritizes the best interests of the child. This consists of providing the child with a stable home environment and safeguarding the child from any harm.

Domestic abuse can affect the outcome of a custody case. If there is evidence of domestic abuse by one parent, then the court will take steps to safeguard the child.

How can your work schedule impact custody rulings?

The court will consider the work schedules of each parent in custody cases. The majority of single parents manage to fit their work schedule around childcare. However, if the court deems that a hectic work schedule may cause an imbalance or lack of stability in the child’s life, then the custody arrangement can be adjusted around the best interests of the child.

At what age can a child choose who to live with?

In New York, children are subjected to custody orders until they reach 18 years old. A child of any age can express preferences of who they want to live with, but the final decision ultimately rests with the court. Children mature at different paces and there is no single age at which the court will listen more carefully to their preferences.

What factors do the court consider when deciding on visitation/parenting time?

As with all other matters related to child custody, the best interests of the child take precedence. Parents often agree to a visitation schedule on their own terms. As long as the court deems these schedules to be in the best interests of the child, then they may be approved. A typical schedule would involve the child visiting the noncustodial parent every other weekend.

Get Personalized Counsel Now

Discuss with attorney Kamelia “Mia” Poppe, Esq., how to arrive at a workable parenting plan. Your child’s custody arrangement will then be included in your divorce decree or issued as a separate court order.

Get in touch with the firm online or by telephone at 646-665-3903 to arrange a free initial consultation with an experienced New York City family law attorney.