Even if you have already retained a family lawyer in Westchester County to help handle your child custody case, you should be aware of the process by which judges make custody determinations. The outcome of your child custody case can have major ramifications on the time you spend with your children as well as your life after divorce, so you should consult directly with an experienced attorney about the possible scenarios that could work for you.
In New York, judges determine both residential and legal custody issues. Residential custody refers to the actual location where the child lives, while legal custody specifies which parent or parents are able to make important decisions regarding the children. One parent may be awarded primary residential and legal custody, but it’s also possible that a judge will determine joint legal custody is the best solution for your family. This refers to situations when both parents have some form of legal custody over the child.
Judges make decisions about child custody in Westchester County New York by using the best interests of the child standard. They may take into account the child’s preference, any histories of child abuse or neglect, the age of the parents, the financial situation of the parents, drug and alcohol usage by the parents, and any physical or mental health issues that could impact a parent’s ability to care for a child or children.
Custody battles can escalate quickly, which is why you need to be prepared with any documentation addressing the above issues for yourself or the other parent. You may even need to have character witnesses speak on your behalf to testify about your parenting abilities and skills. Your family law attorney will be able to provide you with more insight about what’s needed in your case.