Child Custody

Monticello Child Custody Lawyer

If you have children under eighteen, the divorce process often grows more complex. At Scott Russell Law, our highly experienced team—and its familiarity with Sullivan County family courts—can guide you. Call Scott Russell, Monticello Child Custody Lawyer, today for a free consultation.

What is Custody?

In New York, there are two types of child custody: legal and physical. “Legal custody” means the ability to make important decisions for the child, such as those regarding education or medicine. “Physical custody” belongs to the parent with whom the child primarily resides. The other parent may have visitation rights, which may be court-ordered. If child abuse or neglect is alleged in a custody case, the court may also appoint an “Attorney for the Child,” who represents the best interests of the child.

Visitation

At Scott Russell Law, we can help you fight for visitation rights. Where the parties are amicable, it may be possible to work out a visitation agreement. However, in cases where this is not possible, the court may set the visitation schedule. A typical visitation schedule provides for visits every other weekend, one overnight per week, and alternate holidays. Overnight visitation depends partially on the age of the child.

Limited Visitation

When domestic violence issues, unsafe living arrangements, or other similar situations exist, the court may limit visitation. If the court finds that you may be a danger to your child, visitation could be limited by requiring supervision by a court-appointed supervisor. In other cases, the court may require “therapeutic supervised visitations” if it finds you need to improve your parenting skills. A mental health professional is then appointed to supervise and monitor the visit. The court may also order exchange of the child to take place at a neutral location or for the exchange to be monitored if the exchange could be “emotionally or physically dangerous for the child.” In some cases, the court will deny visitation altogether if it finds that denial would be in the best interests of the child.

“Best Interests of the Child”

In custody cases, the “best interests of the child” standard is how the court determines custody. “Best interests of the child” requires a totality-of-the-circumstances test, where the judge will look at several different factors. These factors include, but are not limited to, stability, physical and mental health of the parents, finances, and even the child’s preference—greater weight is given to the latter factor the closer the child is to age eighteen. It is important to note that in looking after the best interests of the child, the court considers the parents’ behavior in court.

Child Support

Often, the parent with whom the child does not reside must pay child support. As with many aspects of the divorce process, the parties have the option of reaching an agreement on their own. However, when the parties are unable to settle on child support, the court will use the Child Support Standards Act. With our experience in family court in Sullivan County, we can help you fight for the child support you need.

Stepparents and Adoption

Our office can also help if a stepparent wishes to adopt a child when the parents have divorced. In such an event, the other biological parent must agree to the adoption “unless s/he has abandoned the child,” which the state defines as no contact for six or more months.