Custody can be a complicated issue, this guide is intended to simplify the law and give some basic information about custody proceedings.
What is custody?
Custody is a parent*s legal right to control his or her child*s upbringing. A parent who does not have custody will still likely be entitled to visitation, the ability to spend time with the child(ren). Both parents have a legal right to ask for custody and visitation in a divorce proceeding.
What is the difference between legal custody and physical custody? Custody has two parts: legal and physical.
Legal custody: The person who has the right to make major decisions about the child. This includes where your child goes to school, what kind of religious training a child receives, whether the child gets surgery.
Physical custody: The person with whom the child lives on a day-to-day basis. A parent with primary physical custody is sometimes called the *custodial parent* or the child*s *primary caretaker.*
How will a judge decide custody? When determining custody and visitation, a judge will consider what is in the best interests of the child(ren). Some factors a judge may consider include:
* who has been the child*s primary caretaker
* the quality of each parent*s home environment
* how *fit* the judge thinks each parent is (stable home and lifestyle, good judgment, has a job, good mental and physical health)
* which parent the child is living with now, and for how long
* each parent*s ability to provide emotional and intellectual support for the child
* which parent allows the other parent into the child*s life (does not try to cut out the other parent)
* if the child is old enough, which parent the child wants to live with
* whether your child would be separated from any siblings
* whether either parent has been abusive
A judge must consider whether there has been domestic violence.
For more detailed answers to frequently asked questions on custody, visit CourtHelp.
Children's Bill of Rights, Clients' Rights
Ways to Reduce the Stress of Divorce on Children and Families
Issues related to the impact of divorce upon children and families are profoundly significant to the individuals involved and to society. The New York Unified Court System's Parent Education and Awareness Program provides classes and information that can help reduce stresses on children and adults involved in painful and complex divorce outcomes. These classes are summarized in the Parent's Handbook. (Parent's Handbook, Parent Education for Separating or Divorcing Parents), available on line (Parent's Handbook). I have decided to include the Handbook on this web site because it is clear and comprehensive, providing 83 pages of valuable information, much of it enlightened and some essential, for parents and children.
This site will also include the "Bill of Rights for Children Whose Parents are Separated or Divorced," and the "Statement of Clients Rights," in divorce actions. I believe that every person involved in a divorce proceeding will benefit with knowledge of their fundamental "rights" and so I have included them here. I am also including the Handbook's Table of Contents which shows the specific content of this valuable resources that is available on line at your discretion.
Bill of Rights for Children Whose Parents Are Separated or Divorced
1. The right not to be asked to *choose sides* between their parents
2. The right not to be told the details of the legal proceedings going on between their parents
3. The right not to be told *bad things* about the other parent*s personality or character
4. The right to privacy when talking to either parent on the telephone
5. The right not to be *cross-examined* by one parent after spending time with the other parent
6. The right not to be asked to be a messenger from one parent to the other
7. The right not to be asked by one parent to tell the other parent untruths
8. The right not to be used as a confidant regarding adult matters.
9. The right to express feelings, whatever those feelings may be
10. The right to choose not to express certain feelings
11. The right to be protected from parental *warfare*
12. The right not to be made to feel guilty for loving both parents
Statement of Client's Rights
1. You are entitled to be treated with courtesy and consideration at all times by your lawyer and the other lawyers and personnel in your lawyer*s office.
2. You are entitled to an attorney capable of handling your legal matter competently and diligently, in accordance with the highest standards of the profession. If you are not satisfied with how your matter is being handled, you have the right to withdraw from the attorney-client relationship at any time (court approval may be required in some matters and your attorney may have a claim against you for the value of services rendered to you up to the point of discharge).
3. You are entitled to your lawyer*s independent professional judgment and undivided loyalty uncompromised by conflicts of interest.
4. You are entitled to be charged a reasonable fee and to have your lawyer explain at the outset how the fee will be computed
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