Do Grandparents Have Custody Rights in New York?

In the state of New York, grandparents may have limited rights to visit their grandchildren.  This is because the law states that parents have the fundamental and primary right to raise their children how they see fit.  As a result, grandparents will only be granted specific visitation rights if the New York courts believe that doing so is in the best interests of the child.

There are many factors that could be evaluated by a New York court when it comes to determining grandparent visitation rights, but there is a two part test employed to decide whether this is the most appropriate solution.  First, the court has to feel that visitation rights for the grandparents is in the best interests of the child.  Second, it has to be clear that there is already a functioning and established relationship between the child and the grandparents.

When it comes to determining the best interests of the child in a New York grandparent visitation case, the court might evaluate the wishes of the child, the morality of the parents, the past behavior of one or both parents, education opportunities, how the home environment influences the child or children, and the physical or emotional needs of the child.

Visitation rights cases for New York grandparents can be difficult because compared to other states, New York is relatively restrictive.  This doesn’t mean that you don’t have a possible case, however.  If you believe that you should fight for visitation rights of your grandchildren, you need to consult with an experienced New York family law attorney to learn more about how to initiate this kind of case.  Since the law is complex, it’s essential to hire a talented attorney as soon as possible for your case.

What Are New York’s Alimony Guidelines?

When you’re a party to a divorce, you likely have some questions about alimony and how it’s determined in the state of New York.  While alimony is not granted in every case, it’s worth understanding how the court considers needs and how it decides when alimony is applicable and under what circumstances it should be paid.

Temporary maintenance may be awarded when the divorce proceedings begin.  It takes into account the immediate financial needs of one spouse by evaluating the standard of living before the divorce and the reasonable needs of the spouse to be supported.

After divorce, alimony or spousal support can continue for a specific period or it can stop when certain life events happen.  Examples of these life events including the supported spouse living with someone else, the supported spouse getting remarried, or the death of either spouse.

New York uses a specific formula to determine what amount of spousal support will be awarded.  There are situations, however, when a judge may not use that formula.  If the formula is, for some reason, found to be “unjust” or not appropriate in the determination of New York spousal support, the judge then considers other factors.  These include the age and health of each spouse, the standard of living for the spouses during the marriage, and the earning capacities of each spouse.

Courts can consider many different factors in determining whether spousal support should be awarded at all.  This includes the existence of a joint household before the marriage, the future and present income of both spouses, the length of the marriage, the income and property that each spouse has, and the ability of the receiving party to become “self-sufficient” at some point in the future.

Need more information?  A New York family law attorney will be able to further explain the intricacies of the guideline.

When Can I Modify Child Support Arrangements in New York?

Just because a child support order was handed down to one party or another doesn’t mean that life always stays the same.  In fact, major changes in the circumstances of involved parties can be grounds for altering child support arrangements in New York.  Either parent has the right to ask for changes in the child support order.

The parent who wants the change in the child support order has to go to the court and petition by filling out the New York paperwork necessary to request an official child support order change.  There are certain circumstances under which changes can be requested.

A substantial change in the circumstances of one of the parties to the child support order is one such reason.  The other two primary reasons for requesting a child support modification order  in New Yorkis when there has been a 15 percent increase or decrease in a parent’s income after the original order was issued or when three or more years have passed since the initial order was put into place.

Substantial changes in circumstances can seem a bit confusing, but applicable situations include when there are sudden medical needs for the child, an increase in medical bills, an illness on behalf of the paying parent, or a decrease in the income of a parent.  Review your situation with an experienced New York family law attorney to determine whether your circumstance meet the criteria for a change in a New York child support order.  If the court approves the petition, it will be backdated to the day the parent actually went to court to file the New York child support modification petition, not the specific date when the parent alleges changes in circumstances has actually happened.

Tips for Drafting Parenting Plans in New York

When you are heading into discussions over your New York parenting plan, it pays to be informed.  Knowing what to expect and how you can best structure the process to leave parties mutually accepting of the terms is critical for success.  Here are the top tips for putting together parenting plans in New York.

You’ll want to have all important information before you put together the parenting plan.  This means factoring in parental work schedules, the pattern of time-sharing with the child that happened before the divorce was final, the ability of the child to adapt to changes, as well as long term plans like set-in-stone vacation arrangements that should be accounted for.

It’s a good idea to consider how communication should happen between the parents if there are emergencies or last-minute changes that need to be considered.  Setting up a communication plan of action can limit arguments between you and your former spouse and set out clear protocol about discussions over altering the existing schedule.  This can ultimately be a positive step to help out the children involved in the case, too, by limiting a constantly shifting schedule and any particular disagreements related to when and under what circumstances the schedule can change.

Finally, factor in the developmental needs of each child.  Often, a cookie cutter New York parenting plan is not the best approach because it might miss out on some of the individual needs of the children.  If there are any psychological or behavioral disorders, as well as any medical need that should be factored in, bring those to the table when you’re drafting your parenting plan.

A parenting plan can be made easier by consulting with an experienced New York family law attorney as soon as possible.