Child Custody/Visitation

Matters relating to child custody and child visitation can be vigorously contested.  One of the first issues to be addressed is whether there will be sole custody or joint custody.  And, if joint custody, a determination must be made as to whether it will be joint legal custody and/or joint physical custody.  After the custody matter is resolved, a determination must be made as to which parent will have primary residence or whether there will be no designation of a primary residence.  Then a determination must be made as to the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights/privileges.  Visitation can be a complicated matter all by itself. 

Our legal team, at Jackson Bergman, LLP, prides itself, when representing the non-custodial parent, to protect the visitation rights/privileges of our clients and to forecast future issues.  Although there may be a basic, set visitation schedule, thought, creativity, and reasonable prediction must be afforded to special days (for example birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, etcetera), uninterrupted vacation time, holidays (for example Christmas Eve night into Christmas Eve morning), and so on.

CHILD SUPPORT

In the State of New York, the courts will implement and utilize what is known as the Child Support Standards Act (hereinafter CSSA) when calculating the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation.  The CSSA actually sets forth a formula to calculate the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation, uses percentages based upon the number of children, and provides reasons a court can exercise its discretion for a downward or upward deviation.  It is the gray area of the CSSA which affords courts room for a deviation, which can be complicated, and our legal team understands and aggressively fights for our clients rights when in that gray area.  For our custodial clients, we have been successful securing the most amount of child support available.  For our non-custodial clients, we have been successful securing significant downward deviations. 

The non-custodial parent, in the State of New York, is required to provide child support until such time as the child is emancipated under the laws of our State.  The most common way for a child to be emancipated is to reach the age of 21 (in the State of New York).  Other ways a child will be deemed emancipated, prior to reaching 21 years of age, are for him or her to enter the military or become married.

Even when child support is initially resolved, there are many times when there are future issues.  For example, there are child support modification proceedings where one parent is either seeking an increase in child support or a decrease in child support.  Child support modification proceedings are, more often than not, handled in family court by a support magistrate.  There can be times when a custodial or non-custodial parent files a petition for a violation of a court order for child support.  This process, too, can be complicated and the divorce/matrimonial/family court team/lawyers at Jackson Bergman, LLP, will navigate you through these waters.

ISSUES RELATING TO EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION, CHILD CUSTODY, AND CHILD VISITATION

Whether by judicial determination or through effective negotiations, many issues can factor into the ultimate outcome of sole versus joint custody, primary residency, visitation privileges, and equitable distribution.  Some of these many factors are as follows:

  • Primary Caretaker
  • Physical and Mental Health of Each Parent
  • History of Domestic Violence
  • History of Drug/Alcohol Abuse
  • History of Criminal Convictions
  • History of Family Offense Petitions
  • History of Orders of Protection
  • History of Child Protective Services (CPS) Indicated Reports
  • Child’s Wishes
  • Parenting Skills
  • Ability of Each Parent to Foster and Enhance the Child’s Relationship with the Other Parent

The above list is a sampling of the matters your legal team at Jackson Bergman, LLP, will discuss with you and possibly investigate so as to provide you the best and most aggresive representation possible.