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Joint Custody in New York, Maybe?

Father holding son

New York State is one of the seven states in the United States which does not generally award joint custody to both parents of minor children. Joint custody arrangements can be made in New York, however, they have to be made pursuant to an agreement between the parties. The agreement can take place in a Stipulation of Settlement in a divorce, a Settlement Agreement in a custody proceeding in family court or pursuant to a Separation Agreement.

If the parties have not worked out a joint custody arrangement out of court, judges in New York will usually determine the issue of which parent receives custody of the children based on the best interests of the children. In these situations the court will award one parent residential custody of the children and the other parent parenting time (this is the politically correct term for visitation).

Fathers Seeking Custody

Fathers who seek to obtain custody of their children have to be aware that although the law has been gender neutral concerning who receives custody in New York for many years, mothers win the majority of custody legal battles. It is important, therefore, for a father who seeks to have custody of his children to retain an experienced, dedicated attorney who has experience advocating for fathers to obtain custody.

Father as the Primary Caretaker

In cases where the father has been the primary caretaker of the children, is the better provider, who puts the children’s best interests in the forefront of his thoughts, he should have the opportunity, if he desires, to become the sole residential custodial parent if a joint custody arrangement cannot be worked out. In the event the father does not seek to litigate the issue of custody, he should then seek to have parenting time equal to the time that the children spend with their mother. Fathers can actually end up being the non-custodial parent of their children and having all of the time to spend with their children that they desire.

Although many fathers assume that children’s natural caretaker would be their mother, this is not the status of the law in New York today and it has not been the status of the law in New York for many years. Fathers who seek to obtain custody of their children and are prepared to do battle in court have been more successful in obtaining their children’s custody in recent years. The first step a father should take if he seeks custody of his children is to retain a law firm which is committed to protecting the rights of fathers when dealing with family law situations.

Elliot S. Schlissel is a father’s rights lawyer representing fathers for more than 35 years throughout the Metropolitan New York Area.