Suffolk County Child Custody Lawyer

An experienced and knowledgeable Suffolk County custody lawyer is essential during the difficult and stressful times of custody litigation. At the Law Office of Louis L. Sternberg, we represent clients to ensure that the best interests of the children are protected.

Child Custody, under New York law, has three essential components – residential custody, legal custody and visitation.

  • Residential custody refers to the right to have the child or children reside with the parent. Residential custody is sometimes referred to as physical custody.
  • Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions regarding certain aspects of the child’s upbringing such as education and medical care.
  • Visitation is a non-custodial parent’s right to spend certain time with the subject child or children, often pursuant to a schedule established by way of agreement or court order.  Visitation is sometimes referred to a “parenting time.”

Sole Custody, Joint Custody, Split Custody, Nesting Arrangements and 50 / 50 Custody

The terms sole custody, joint custody and split custody are frequently used in family court and divorce litigation. Additionally, they are frequently used incorrectly so it is essential that parties know exactly what each term means.

  • Sole Custody describes situations in which only one parent has the right to make the major decisions for the children. The other parent has authority to make any such decisions or even to be consulted on such decisions.
  • 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.
  • “Nesting” arrangements are also growing increasingly common.  Under such an arrangement, the children continue to reside in the family home uninterrupted and each of the parents vacates the home on a rotating basis.  Such arrangement is designed and intended to ensure parity and establish amounts of time wherein each party shall be free to enjoy the home and provide their individual care for the children without involvement or interference by the other.
  • Also increasingly common are so-called 50 / 50 custody arrangements where the children spend equal time with both parents.

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.

Factors in Determining Child Custody in New York

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, based on the totality of the circumstances. 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?
  • Scheduling and availability for parenting.
  • Drug abuse or alcohol abuse.
  • Parental mental health issues, including antisocial personality disorder, narcissism, borderline personality disorder, etc.
  • 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).
  • Willingness to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent.
  • Involving the child in parental conflict.
  • Abuse or neglect.
  • Disregard for prior court orders.

How a Suffolk Custody Lawyer Can Help

A Suffolk custody lawyer, also known as a family law attorney, specializes in legal matters related to child custody and visitation rights in Suffolk County, New York, and throughout Long Island. Our lawyers  can provide valuable assistance before, during and after litigation for clients dealing with child custody issues:

  1. Legal Advice: Even before litigation commences, our custody lawyers provide you with legal advice tailored to your specific situation. We explain your custody rights, responsibilities, and the applicable laws, helping you make informed decisions.
  2. Legal Representation: Our custody lawyers can represent you in court during custody hearings or negotiation sessions (sometimes referred to as a “fourway”) . We advocate for your rights and interests and those of your family, helping you navigate the legal process effectively.
  3. Custody Arrangement Recommendations: Based on our experience and knowledge of family law, our custody attorneys will offer recommendations for child custody arrangements most favorable to you and in your child’s best interests. We negotiate on your behalf with the other parent or their counsel to reach an amicable agreement or present a strong case in court if needed.
  4. Pleading and Document Preparation: Our custody team will draft all papers, pleadings and documents including petitions, motions, and parenting plans. Ensuring that these documents are properly drafted and filed is crucial to your case.
  5. Marshalling the Evidence: Our team works from the start to gather and present evidence to support your custody claims. This may include witness testimonies, financial records, and any other relevant information that can strengthen your case.
  6. Negotiation: Our Custody lawyers will engage in negotiations with the other parent or their legal representative to reach a mutually acceptable custody arrangement whenever possible. This can help avoid a lengthy and emotionally taxing court battle.
  7. In Court Representation: If your custody case cannot be resolved through negotiation, we will represent you in court. We have extensive litigation experience and are known throughout the courts of Suffolk County and Nassau County.  We litigate your case from the first appearance onwards, including questioning witnesses, presenting evidence and arguing on your behalf to secure the best possible outcome.
  8. Modification and Enforcement: Our custody attorneys  assist with modifying existing custody orders if circumstances change or enforce existing orders if the other parent is not complying with the terms.
  9. Protecting Your Custody Interests: Above all, as your Suffolk custody attorney, our  primary goal is to advocate and ensure that your custody rights are protected. We ensure that your needs are met and convince the Court that the child’s best interests are served by our client being awarded custody.

Navigating child custody disputes can be emotionally challenging and legally complex. Hiring a qualified Suffolk custody lawyer can provide you with the legal expertise and support needed to make informed decisions and achieve a favorable outcome for your child custody case.

Suffolk County Child Custody Lawyer

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, which is why we proudly serve as Suffolk County custody lawyers

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 Suffolk County custody lawyer.

Suffolk Custody Lawyer Free Consultation

We proudly offer free consultations on custody cases including evening and weekend appointments to meet the needs of our clients.  Your Suffolk County Custody lawyers are available by phone at (631) 600-3295 or through our intake form to set up an appointment for a consultation with a Suffolk County Child Custody Lawyer.