Many people have the mistaken belief that mothers get preferential treatment by the courts in child custody cases, but this isn’t actually true. This myth likely gets its roots from the past, when mothers weren’t likely to work outside the house and spent more of their time tending to the children. Because of this, the courts often did grant the mother primary physical custody since she had been the main caregiver to begin with. However, two-income families are now the norm, and fathers have greatly increased their overall involvement in their children’s lives in the past few decades. This means that the New York family courts do not consider the mother the automatic choice for custodial parent.
New York custody determinations
So how are custody cases in New York decided? The short answer is in whatever way that the courts determine meets the best interests of the children. This means that the judge has quite a bit of leeway to make decisions about the custody arrangement and who will be the residential parent based on the details of each case. It also means that both parties will be responsible for showing the judge why their preferred custody and parenting time arrangement would best support the children’s needs and overall well-being.
Determining factors in custody cases
While the parent who is the primary caretaker of the children may still have a slight advantage in some situations, this is usually true in cases where the children would be adversely affected by a disruption in their routines and daily lives. There are many other factors in play in most custody disputes, including but not limited to:
- The mental and physical fitness of both parents
- Any history of substance abuse
- Any convictions or accusations of child abuse or family violence
- The parents’ ability and willingness to communicate with the other parent and foster the parent-child relationship
- Workplace schedules and obligations
- The child’s wishes
Protecting your parental rights
Knowing your parental rights is just one part of preparing for your case. Child custody disputes are infamous for escalating quickly into high-conflict situations, and it’s important to know what your options are and what your expectations should be. Contact the law office of Keith B. Schulefand, Esq., to schedule a free consultation to discuss the details of your case.