Suffolk County Custody Lawyer

Long Island Child Custody Attorney

Child Custody has two components:

  • Physical custody (sometimes referred to as residential custody) – the right to have the child or children reside with the parent.
  • Legal custody – the right to make decisions for the child’s upbringing such as education and medical care.

Factors in Determining Child Custody

The standard of determination in a custody case is the “best interests of the child.” This is an intentionally broad standard that leaves the court with tremendous discretion. In determining the best interests of the child, the courts must look at the totality of the circumstances, which is, again, very broad in scope. The Family Court Act and Domestic Relations Law list only domestic violence as a consideration in determining custody but subsequent case law provides additional factors including:

  • Which parent is the primary caregiver?
  • Which parent provides the child with more stability?
  • Drug abuse or alcohol abuse
  • Mental health and physical health
  • Psychological bond between parent and child
  • Work schedules of the parents
  • Parental Alienation / false allegations by one parent against the other parent
  • The child’s preference (the amount of weight this is given increases with the age of the child)

Sole Custody, Joint Custody and Split Custody

Sole Custody describes situations in which only one parent has the right to make the major decisions for the children.

Joint custody (or joint legal custody) occurs when both parents have legal custody of the child (the right to make certain decisions about the child’s upbringing). Even in situations of joint custody, only one parent is usually designated as the parent with physical custody. Often, this means that the parents must consult with each other before making any major decision regarding the child’s medical needs, education or religious upbringing. Generally, joint custody is ordered only when the parties agree to it but, in exceedingly rare cases, a court may award joint custody to the parents after a trial.

Split custody occurs when the parties have multiple children and one or more of the children live with each parent. For example, Parent A has physical custody of one or more of the children while Parent B has physical custody of one or more of the children. Split custody is heavily disfavored in New York.

Regardless of arrangements of sole custody, joint custody or split custody, the non-custodial parent retains the right to seek visitation with the child or children.

Parent against a third-party

Absent of a showing of “extraordinary circumstances,” a parent will always retain custody over a third-party. The New York Court of Appeals has stated that the “State may not deprive a parent of the custody of a child absent surrender, abandonment, persisting neglect, unfitness or other like extraordinary circumstances.”

Suffolk Child Custody Attorney

At the Law Office of Louis L. Sternberg, we understand the delicate nature of these issues and the emotional toll such disputes can have on our clients and their children. We understand that nothing is more important to mothers and fathers than their children. Our approach is simple: We treat our clients’ families as we would our own.

We are committed to helping clients not only accomplish their goals but also do so in a way that protects their future relationships with their children. We take a personal approach to every case, offering tailor-made solutions to clients’ problems. These are important and complicated issues and it is always best to contact a family law attorney.

Call us at 516-669-3295 to speak with a Suffolk County custody lawyer.