Long Island Custody Lawyer

If you are in Nassau County, or further east in Suffolk County, the Long Island Family Court will be the authority in a legal case that revolves around your family. This includes matters of Child Custody, questions of Child Support and/or Visitation, many post divorce modifications, and further includes Orders of Protection and alleged occurrences of Abuse and Neglect. Any Long Island Child Custody Lawyer is likely going to understand that a case to settle Child Custody is typically the most strenuous and sad event experienced by a couple that has decided to separate or to divorce. Because of this, a Long Island Child Custody Lawyer from the law firm of Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has created the below summary of basic information, which can help you be better prepared for your Child Custody (or other Family Law) case in New York.

Location of Long Island Family Courts

  • If you are in Nassau County, you will find the Family Court in Westbury New York, at 1200 Old Country Road.
  • In Suffolk County, the Family Court has two locations: the main one is in Central Islip, 400 Carleton Avenue, and another facility is in Riverhead, 889 E Main Street, in Suite 308.

Legal Standard for Determining Custody

Wherever you are on Long Island—or anywhere in New York State, from the Bronx to the suburbs in Westchester—the point on which your Child Custody case will turn is a decision about what is in your child’s (or children’s) best interests. For many people involved in such cases, this standard can possibly seem vague. Your Long Island Child Custody Lawyer, however, knows that a Long Island Family Court Judge actually does examine some indicators that are quite specific as he/she works toward reaching a decision in your Child Custody matter. Before we explain what those specifics are, first we’ll define the three options for the type of Child Custody you may be awarded by a Family Court Judge in Long Island or elsewhere in New York State.

Types of Custody

  1. Full custody. If you are the parent who is granted a full custody arrangement, this outcome means that the authority to decide all aspects of your child’s care and welfare will fall exclusively to you. In other words, you are the parent to decide where your child/children’s primary residence will be, how they will be educated (e.g. which school they go to), which doctors you want to care for your child’s health, as well as the religion/faith (if any) under which to raise your child or children. These are simply a few major examples of the areas over which you will hold decision-making authority.
  2. Physical Custody. Your Long Island Child Custody Lawyer knows Physical Custody (you may also hear this called “Residential Custody”) is the most basic kind of custodial arrangement. Physical or Residential Custody denotes where a child’s primary residence is; so, it specifies where the child will live. The parent retaining Physical custody, therefore, is entitled to make all decisions affecting daily routines for that child. These encompass deciding what to feed the child, when to set a bedtime for the child, as well as when the child must do its homework.
  3. Joint Custody or Shared Custody- As the phrase suggests, Joint Custody refers to the custodial arrangement in which both of the child’s parents are given equal control over decision making in the major factors of the child’s life. Note: It is irrelevant in Joint Custody which parent has residential custody; both share in decision making.

The Process of Determining Custody

As we mentioned above, the standard for legally determining Child Custody on Long Island is the answer to this question: What is the outcome what would be in the child’s best interests? What the Court examines first is the role of primary caregiver in the child’s life. Who has been fulfilling this role? The Court wants to understand which parent has been responsible for daily care, meeting the child’s basic everyday needs? So, which parent has helped with homework? Which has taken the child to his or her doctor’s appointments? Who prepares the child’s meals and typically bathes, dresses, and gets the child to school?

Evaluating these factors is how your Long Island Family Court Judge determines the primary caregiver. If the Judge chooses, he or she can call on a helpful resource to assist in this evaluation: a Law Guardian. The Judge has the discretion to appoint Law Guardian—a Long Island Family Lawyer—and that person then will represent the child or children involved. After interviewing your child/children, the Law Guardian will bring to the Family Court their opinion regarding who should serve as Custodial parent.

Additional Factors

Each Long Island Child Custody Lawyer on the experienced staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC is aware that further factors—ones for which you might be unprepared—can arise in your Child Custody case. Consider, for example, that the Court may look into your background, may factor in whether you might relocate, or even may allow the wishes your child expresses to influence the case outcome.

It’s important that you have appropriate help and skilled representation. Call us today to get free advice with no obligation. Just dial 1.800.NY.NY.LAW (1.800.696.9529) and arrange to meet in our Long Island offices—which are in Nassau County in addition to being in Suffolk County. Of course, we’re also in Manhattan, and if you like you can come to our offices in Queens, or on Staten Island, north in the Bronx, and in Kings County (Brooklyn), too. For your convenience, we’re also available to meet at our Westchester County office if you choose.

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