We believe your children come first
At the law firm of Greenberg Bryant & Bleier, LLP our attorneys work hard to ensure that all parties to a custody dispute keep the real focus on the well-being of the children. We work diligently with parents throughout the New York City metro area to reach a result that is best for your children. No matter what the circumstances are of your child custody and visitation matter, at Greenberg Bryant & Bleier LLP, we provide thoughtful, effective, and aggressive representation seven days a week. Our reputation and history of successful child custody litigation speaks for itself.
Nothing is more heartbreaking than a child who caught between two warring parents in the midst of a battle for custody. It is for this reason that at the law firm of Greenberg Bryant & Bleier, LLP we try to encourage parents not to use the word "custody" at all in addressing parenting issues. At the same time, we acknowledge the challenges of "co-parenting" with an ex-spouse, especially during the delicate pendente lite time period when the divorce is not yet final.
How a New York Court views Child Custody and Visitation Cases:
There are two key aspects to child custody in the State of New York. First, Physical Custody (or “Residential Custody”), designates where the children will physically live most of the time. In many cases, time is split equally between both parents. However, factors such as the parents' work schedules, where the child attends school, and how far apart the parents live from one another are all relevant to which parent will have "residential custody" of the child. Second, is "Legal Custody", which is essentially an arrangement as to how decisions are made on behalf of your children with regard to their health, education, extra-curricular activities and summer activities.
In the universe of divorces, there are very few custody trials because most parents can discuss and come to a settlement agreement with the help of their attorneys about how to raise their children. It is entirely possible, and even common place, for one parent to have primary residential custody of the children and both parents to share joint legal custody of the children. Generally speaking, it is never advantageous to have a custody trial, although there are rare circumstances where a trial is the only option. The court has hundreds of cases before a single judge at any one time. Hence, any settlement agreement that the parties can reach together with the assistance of their attorneys is better than a trial decision imposed by a judge who may know very little about the nuances of your life. If parents can settle their custody and visitation issues, they will enter into a contract known as a "Parenting Agreement" or a "Parenting Plan" which provides great detail as to how the parties will raise their cildren. If there are any questions, concerns, or problems in the future, either parent may make an application to the court and ask for the court's assistance. In resolving the problem between the parents, the court will always look first to the parties "Parenting Agreement" to determine the outcome.
The first difficult adjustment for a divorcing parent is to begin viewing yourself as a "co-parent." Too often we hear parents referring to their offspring as "my" children. The reality is that the more you share the responsibility of caring for your children with your "co-parent"/ ex-spouse, the easier it will become. Even parents with the most difficult and strained circumstances at the outset, can learn over time to function together as a team for the benefit of their children. Only in rare circumstances where parents simply cannot make decisions together do courts grant sole custody to one parent anymore, although it does happen. For example, where an Order of Protection exists between the parents, often sole custody to one parent is warranted and necessary.
Which parent will ultimately have physical or legal custody of your child is not a foregone conclusion. Simply because you’re a father does not mean you will not win custody of your child and just because you’re a mother does not mean you will automatically get custody of your child. More often than not however, parents today share a close to 50/50 arrangement and each parent’s time with the child is referred to as “parenting time.” At the law firm of Greenberg Bryant & Bleier LLP, we fight to ensure you will have as much “parenting time” with your children as may be possible given the particular circumstances of your family.
Having an experienced, knowledgeable attorney to help you achieve your goals is imperative. Whether you are interested in seeking sole custody of your children or the other parent is attempting to restrict your parenting time, we have the knowledge, the experience and the resources necessary to help you achieve an outcome that is in the best interests of your child. Contact our offices in Downtown Manhattan today to learn more about how the law firm of Greenberg Bryant & Bleier, LLP.
Joint Legal Custody vs. Sole Legal Custody in the State of New York
It is a common misconception that courts will impose joint legal custody on parents. Although courts today generally see the full involvement of both parents in a child's life as optimal, this is not always a realistic scenario in all cases. Joint Legal Custody refers to an arrangement made between the parents, or if after a trial imposed on the parents by court order, to jointly agree on all issues concerning the health, education and general welfare of the children. In New York, it is not uncommon for courts to use "zones" or "spheres" of decision making where parents are hostile toward one another. Joint custody is a viable option only if the parents have the ability to communicate respectfully and productively concerning matters that affect the children. If the parents are incapable of effective communication, courts tend to view the environment as toxic, unproductive and ripe for conflict that will ultimately require a court to intervene. In instances such as these, court will frequently decide that one parent is better suited to being the sole decision maker on behalf of the children.
Custody Trial are Sometimes Necessary
While we try to avoid the time and expense of a custody trial, sometimes it is necessary and in the best interests of your children for one parent to have sole custody. In such an instance, courts often have ordered a mental health expert to evaluate both your and your ex-spouses parenting capacity. This neutral report, along with various witnesses, will serve to inform the court as to who is better suited to make decisions on behalf of your children. In preparation for a trial, we will work with you many hours a day in the days before the trial to prepare you for your testimony and identify the strengths and weaknesses of your case vs. your ex-spouse's case in order to set reasonable, realistic expectations about the outcome of your trial.
Emergency Applications for Custody
Making an emergency application to the court for temporary physical custody of your children may be appropriate under certain circumstances.
If you have a realistic belief that your ex-spouse is imminently planning to relocate with your child without your permission or the consent of the court to another jurisdiction, then it is highly recommended that you hire a family law attorney immediately to make an application to the court to stop the relocation. Once the child has left the jurisdiction, the New York Court maintains jurisdiction over the child for six months if this is where the child's habitual residence was during the six month s prior to the relocation. In that case, the New York court can order the return of the parent with the child to New York.
If you notice signs of child abuse or neglect that you believe have been committed by the other parent If the child is in imminent danger while being cared for by the other parent, then it is highly recommended that you consult with a family law attorney immediately. The law firm of Greenberg Bryant & Bleier, LLP can help you through the process of making an emergency application to the court for temporary physical child custody. Our experienced attorneys know how to proceed quickly in these cases to ensure your child’s safety.