Articles Posted in Child Custody

When parents decide to bring an end to their relationships together or to their marriage in divorce, there areSadBoyWine-300x203 several complicated concerns that they’ll need to think about. Just one of those issues, involves how parenting time and custody should be handled.  When a court needs to decide the issues the court will look at best interests of the children.  Sometimes, parents can simply come to terms about child custody and parenting times on their own, through the process of negotiations through their child custody lawyers, mediation, or collaborative law. However, as a family law attorney, I’ve also seen many instances wherein parents have needed to turn to the help of the court to determine how a child’s care should be divided between spouses.

One common issue that can cause complications in deciding how a child’s custody and parenting time should be managed, is the presence of drugs, alcohol, or issues with sobriety in the lifestyles of one of the parents involved in the divorce. If a parent is known to have issues with sobriety, then it may be the court struggles to determine whether exposure to that parent is in the best interests of the child. Sometimes, visitation may be limited to “supervised” visitation, depending on whether or not the court believes that unsupervised visitation might harm the child in some way.  But also getting sober can be a significant positive to allow for a custody and parenting time order to be revisited.  Continue reading

When it comes to addressing difficult topics during a divorce or family law matter, there are options available that allow for a Couple-Unhappy-300x200solution beyond litigation. When it comes to parenting time, visitation, and custody arrangements, many parents prefer to use a method of alternative dispute resolution known as mediation. With mediation, it’s possible to come to terms about the future of a child, or children, without leaving decisions entirely in the hands of the court. Additionally, because mediation is naturally less combative than litigation in most cases, it can allow for some semblance of a relationship to be preserved between the parents in a case.

Though I work as a divorce attorney and child custody lawyer for my clients here in New York and Long Island, I can also offer them alternative options for dispute resolution in the form of mediation and collaborative law. When my clients choose to engage in mediation, the first thing I like to tell them is that there aren’t necessarily any hard and fast rules about how mediations need to proceed. Instead, each mediation session is adjusted according to the needs of the couples, individuals, and families in question. Subsequently, the dynamics of the mediation will also be unique. Often, I’ll start by asking whether the couple have already discussed the issue of parenting time and custody, and whether they have any ideas on how an agreement should look. Continue reading

After taking the time to in my last blog series to discuss the ins and outs of divorce litigation, I hope to share more of Couple-Mediation-300x200my experience in the world of family law by turning to some blogs about mediation, my favorite method of dispute resolution. Most of my mediated cases involve divorce, however, it’s also possible to use mediation as a solution for coming to agreements that do not including divorce as well. For instance, mediation can be particularly useful for people who want to address family law issues like child custody and parenting times without discussing divorce. Mediation can also be used for couples that want to be legally separated, or make pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements.

The principles that are addressed when mediating parenting time and custody within a divorce, and outside of a divorce are often the same. However, the mechanism that turns the agreements made within mediation into binding orders can be very different for unmarried couples. Usually, it’s expected that the Supreme Court will incorporate a Stipulation of Settlement for a divorce or Separation Agreement into the Judgment without the need to see parties in court.  My engagement with the couple will provide that after the settlement agreement is signed I can draft and submit the uncontested papers to the court for them.  For the purposes of bringing the papers through the court system my name will go down as attorney for the plaintiff, but it is understood that I am neutral between the couple.  The reason I can be listed as the attorney for the plaintiff in that instance is because there are no remaining issues of contention between them since we settled the case by the Separation Agreement.   Continue reading

A divorce case will often be an emotional and complicated time for everyone involved. Feelings are hurt, and in courtroom-898931_960_720-300x226some cases, sadness spurred by the end of a marriage can turn into anger, making the experience of litigation even harder to handle for those involved.  While I am a strong believer in alternative dispute resolution through processes like mediation or collaborative law for couples willing and able to go those routes, often, litigation is the process used.  As a divorce lawyer and child custody attorney, it’s my responsibility to help the people dealing with the complications of divorce to present their case as clearly, calmly, and effectively as possible in front of a New York judge. Often, this will mean telling a story on the behalf of the client, that begins with an opening statement, continues through to a body featuring witness testimonials, direct, and cross examination, and finishes with a closing statement.

From the very beginning when I start working with a client on their divorce case, we will discuss their circumstances in detail with them, and at times writing what I like to call “golden nuggets” of information down in the trial folder, so that we can refer to them later. This allows me to know what kind of story I want to tell throughout the course of the case, although it’s important to listen carefully to what the witnesses, and opposing lawyer says throughout the experience, as this can sometimes alter the considerations that need to be considered when presenting a divorce summation. Continue reading

Fair-Hearing-Pic-300x199Although the nature of divorce trials can change from one case to the next, it’s worth noting that divorce attorneys and child custody lawyers like myself often use a very specific set of techniques when presenting our case to the court. Those techniques allow us to create a story for the judge to follow, beginning with an opening statement that explains the nature of the state, then moving onto direct and cross examination. While direct examination is a process used by divorce attorneys to question our own witnesses and establish context within a trial, cross examination is a strategy that’s more focused on changing the perspective of the court to suit our specific client.

During a cross examination, divorce lawyers such as myself ask witnesses essential to our client’s case to provide an in-depth account of the facts that support the case presented by whichever party called the witness to begin with.  Cross examination allows opposing lawyers and perhaps the attorney for the children, if there is a custody dispute, to ask questions of the witness, in an attempt to reveal information that’s beneficial for their clients. For instance, as a cross-examiner in a divorce case, I might use carefully-worded questioning to draw light to points that present my client in a good light. For instance, I could ask the witness to reveal something positive that my client did, or draw more attention to the bad behavior of the opposing party. Continue reading

As a child custody lawyer, divorce attorney, and family law lawyer, I’ve been involved with several different divorceLawyerpinstripe-300x200 trials across Long Island and New York. While the specifics of these trials might change from couple to couple, it’s worth noting that the formats and many strategies attorneys typically use to present a case in front of a judge or jury have similarities. One of the most important elements involved in a divorce trial is the process of “direct examination”. This is the method that lawyers like myself use to outline facts and introduce exhibits, through our witnesses for the person we’re representing in any specific divorce case.

In the legal world, the concept of direct examination is used to refer to circumstances within a litigation trial, where the attorney questions his or her own witness to help give greater context and detail to a situation. After one side questions their witness on direct examination then the lawyers for the other parties, such as opposing counsel and sometimes the attorney for the child or children question the cross examination, where both attorneys can ask questions of the witness for the trial. I typically use direct examination as a way of getting to the bottom of the story with a witness, uncovering as much vital information as possible that can be used to support my client. Continue reading

A marriage is about joining two lives together at multiple Lawyer-with-Judge-300x200different touchpoints. When you agree to a marriage, you interweave almost every aspect of your life with your partner. For that reason, when a divorce takes place, it can be very complicated to untangle the situation, and make sure that both people come away feeling in-tact, and secure. While some cases of divorce can be handled with alternative dispute resolution strategies like mediation and collaborative law, some will eventually find themselves in front of the New York court. If your divorce requires litigation, then it’s worth understanding the different elements of a divorce trial, which you may need if your case does not settle ahead of time.

The opening statement for a divorce trial is basically the introduction to your case. It gives the judge context that they can use to understand the story behind your divorce. Petitioning parties in New York courts provide their opening statement to begin with, before the responding party has their opportunity. The important thing to remember about opening statements is that they’re generally not argumentative. Divorce lawyers like myself are not permitted to comment on the credibility of the other side during these statements, nor can we craft a story in an attempt to appeal to prejudice or passion. Continue reading

There are various elements involved in ensuring the best results fromJudgesbooks-300x200 a child custody case. Closing statements are one of the unique and valuable opportunities that child custody lawyers use when attempting to present their side of the story to the judge. Because managing a case with children involved can be particularly tricky, a summation or closing statement can provide a memorable way to draw all the facts of the case together into something that the judge can use to make their decision. Otherwise known as a “summation”, a closing statement, when performed by an effective child custody lawyer or divorce attorney, can sweep away any pre-existing feelings that the judge had, and replace their thoughts with a new insight into a custody case and why their clients desires are in the best interests of the child or children.  After all, that is what a child custody and parenting trial is all about.   

To some degree, a closing statement is similar to an opening statement. For instance, in both the opening and closing statements, the attorneys for both parties will have the opportunity to directly address the judge, and “discuss” the case, giving them a framework for understanding the role of each party in the case, and how the evidence should be considered. However, a closing statement can involve arguments that allow the child custody attorney to make their point more effectively, whereas an opening statement requires the lawyers for both sides to stick to the facts. Though arguments can be made about the evidence and how it was presented to help sway the judge or undermine the other party’s case, it’s worth noting that there are rules to follow. Continue reading

After a divorce is finalized, the former husband and wife will go their separate ways. When the former couple has children together, this may result in one of the parents leaving the state with the children. While the state overseeing the initial divorce proceeding generally issues an initial custody order, that order is subject to revision.

U.S. MapCustody orders can be revised by either the state where the original proceeding occurred or, under some circumstances, by the state where the child resides. A common issue in New York family law cases is the state’s ability to enforce custody orders that were made by another state.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act

Lawmakers understand that situations like the ones discussed above are likely to arise, and as a result, they have developed a uniform act to streamline custody proceedings across state lines. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) has been adopted by 49 states, including New York, and provides guidelines as to which court has the power to issue binding custody determinations and modifications. It also allows for consistent enforcement of out-of-state custody determinations.

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Child custody trials can be very challenging experiences for every individual Lawyer-Justice-Scales-226x300involved. After all, they require the court to consider the best interests of a child when moving forward after a divorce case. An important element to remember is that while many professional techniques are used during a child custody battle, no-one really “wins”. Instead, the best arrangement will be suggested based on the unique needs of the child, and the ability of a parent to provide the healthiest upbringing for that child.  It is very much preferred for parents to be able to make agreements as to what the custody and parenting time arrangements for their children will be.  Trials build the animosity between the parties and thereby are harmful to the children.  That being said, custody hearings and trials happen as people involved in a custody battle sometimes cannot or will not settle.

Opening statements represent the start of a custody trial.  Often times custody lawyers choose to waive opening statements as the trier of fact in the case is a judge (there are no jury custody trials in New York), not a jury, and the judge most likely would rather proceed to the testimony rather than hearing opening statements.  Opening statements are not evidence so a judge might actually appreciate the first witness being called who can provide evidence by their testimony, rather than hearing the musings of the child custody attorneys.  Continue reading