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New York Child Custody Turning Toward Shared Parenting Agreements

A recent column posted on suggests that shared parenthood is the new trend taking over child custody battles in New York divorce cases.

Family law can be an emotional area in the justice system because it involves those closest to us. Chief among family law issues is divorce. These matters must be handled carefully in order to minimize the amount of stress and emotional turmoil these cases can cause all while making sure the future financial stability of the spouse is protected.In the article, the columnist points out that while there are more divorces now than ever and the dynamic of the family has changed, with women working and building careers and some men taking a more active role at home.

In years past, it was standard for men to have to pay significant amounts of child support, sometimes on top of alimony. Being late on a payment meant the father was a “deadbeat dad” and often was sent to jail for non-payment, despite a possible job loss or outside circumstance.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 83 percent of custodial parents are mothers, a figure that has gone unchanged since 1994. And some believe children can develop parental alienation syndrome — a dislike of one parent usually brought on by the custodial parent after a divorce.

But advocacy groups, typically those representing fathers, have fought to make shared parenting an option in divorces in states throughout the country. Shared parenting means just that — the child or children live equally with each parent rather than a once-a-weekend or once-every-other-week arrangement.

Below are some questions and answers regarding child custody and visitation in New York by the New York State Unified Court System:

Q. What is custody?
A. There are two types of custody. One is legal custody — the right and responsibility to make decisions for a child and the other is residential or physical custody — where a child will live.

Q. In awarding custody, do New York courts favor one parent over another?
A. No. The law says a custody award is based on what’s best for the child.

Q. What do courts think about when they decide what’s best for a child?
A. Many things, including:

•which parent has been the main care giver •the parenting skills of each parent, their strengths and weaknesses •the mental and physical health of the mother and father •domestic violence in the family •work schedules and child care plans of each parent •the child’s relationships with the rest of the family •what the child wants, depending on the age of the child •each parent’s ability to cooperate with the other parent
Q. If one parent has sole custody, can the other parent visit the child?
A. The courts generally want children to have a relationship with both parents.

Q. What kind of visits are there?
A. Visits can be unsupervised, supervised, or therapeutically supervised. They may involve a neutral site or monitored exchange:

•Supervised Visits: A parent can’t be alone with the child. The court will choose someone to supervise the visits if there are concerns about a parent’s ability to act properly.
•Therapeutic Supervised Visits: A mental health professional supervises the visits and can try during the visits to improve the parenting skills of the parent.
•Neutral Place of Exchange: A safe location where a child goes from one parent to the other for visitation.
•Monitored Transition: A third person is present when the child goes from one parent to the other for visitation.

The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman provides criminal defense in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or contact us through the website.

Additional Resources:

The New Battleground of Child Custody Reform: Shared Parenting, by Rachel Alexander,