Westchester County Custody
In Westchester County, any legal case that involves a family or children is going to be heard by the Westchester County Family Court. This is the court with authority to hand down a legal decision in cases of Child Support, Child Custody cases, Visitation cases, cases of Abuse and Neglect, many post divorce modifications as well as Orders of Protection. A Westchester County Child Custody Lawyer is sympathetic to the fact that Child Custody is often the hardest issue faced by a couple when they are separating. If you have a Child Custody Case, read the overview here prepared by a Westchester Child Custody Lawyer in the offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC for basic information about what to expect.
The Westchester County Family Court is located in New Rochelle, at 420 North Avenue (on the 3rd floor). It is open weekdays from 9 in the morning until 5 pm. You can reach it by MetroNorth trains, using the Bee-Line Bus, or by car.
In Westchester as in the rest of New York, from Manhattan (New York County) to Suffolk County, a question of Child Custody will be decided based on what is deemed to be in the best interests of the child. If this seems like it is a somewhat ambiguous legal standard, rest assured that there are indeed specific indicators for a Westchester County Family Court Judge to analyze. Once the Judge decides what is in the child’s best interest—and we’ll discuss the specifics of determining that below—he or she can award various types of custody. Those include:
Full custody; When one parent is awarded full custody, it means that this parent retains the sole right to make all decisions impacting the child’s care. Such decisions run the gamut, ranging from where the child will live to how they will be educated. On their own, the Full Custody parent will decide which doctors the child will see and which faith or religion the child will be raised in. These are just a few examples of the many significant decisions they will have authority to make.
Physical Custody: The most basic form of Child Custody, Physical Custody is also sometimes called Residential Custody. This is because it in fact denotes where your child will live (where their primary residence is). With this form of custody also comes the power to reach decisions about the daily routine for your child, including what he or she might eat for breakfast and dinner, what time will be set as bedtime, and when the child must do his or her homework.
Joint Custody: As implied by the name, Joint Custody, also called shared custody, is the custodial form that grants equal decision making rights to both parents of the child. This means that the two parents hold equal authority in reaching all significant decisions shaping the life of the child—and it will not matter which of the two has residential custody.
So how does a Westchester Family Court Judge reach a determination in a Custody case? Mentioned above, the outcome of such cases will rest on the child’s best interests. A number of factors are considered in Westchester Family Court as the judge resolves your case. The starting point is this: Who is the child’s primary caregiver? To answer that question, the Family Court examines which of the parents has been handling the daily tasks of caring for their child. What they will be considering, then, is who attends to everyday needs for the child, whether dressing them for school, assisting with homework, ensuring the child is fed and regularly bathed, and going to any doctor appointments with the child.
By analyzing these issues, the Westchester County Family Court Judge will decide which of the two parents may fairly be viewed as a primary caregiver. If an additional viewpoint is needed to reach this decision, the Court may appoint a Law Guardian. This person is a Westchester Family Lawyer who will be given the job of representing the child (or the children’s) best interest during the custody case. The appointed Law Guardian might interview the children involved, and then they will present a recommendation to the Court about which parent, in their opinion, should be deemed the Custodial parent.
At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC, each Westchester County Child Custody Lawyer is experienced and brings familiarity with additional factors which could affect your Custody case. These factors potentially range from an examination into either parent’s background to what the child states as their own wishes. Because this can be complicated, and because the outcome is so important to your family, call us today for free initial advice about your case. Dial 800.696.9529 to meet with us throughout New York City and the surrounding area. We’re in each NYC borough, and also on Long Island—both Suffolk County and closer by in Nassau County. So you can meet with us not just in Westchester, but in Manhattan, Queens, Richmond County (Staten Island), or else in Brooklyn or even in the Bronx.