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Queens Child Custody Lawyers

November 12, 2017

If you are facing Family Court proceedings in the New York City area, the most important thing you can do is get a skilled and experienced lawyer on your side. Family Court proceedings in the state of New York are unlike any other area of law. That’s why it’s extremely important to hire a lawyer who specializes in this unique area of the legal profession. A skilled lawyer may not be able to win you sole custody of your children, but they will be able to help you avoid making mistakes that can all but guarantee that there will be an unfavorable outcome for you and your kids.

Family Court hears cases where the future, not the past, is in question

One of the key differences between Family Court and other types of court is that, in family court, the judge is attempting to ascertain the likelihood of events that will happen in the future, not in the past. Whereas in criminal law, many trials may hinge around expert testimony regarding physical evidence, in Family Court, the evidence may revolve around much more subjective or intangible things, such as what a forensic evaluator reports back on the interactions between a parent and a child or even what kind of impression a parent makes on the trial judge.

In addition to these uncertainties, Family Court is heavily reliant on case law to an extent not seen in other areas of the law. Even the few statutory laws that directly effect Family Court decisions, such as Domestic Relations Law 70are typically broadly worded and only apply in the most extreme cases. How your child custody hearing will proceed will likely depend mostly on the judge’s opinion of the facts and how they fit in with the process established by prior Family Court cases.

All of this adds up to a situation in which it is more important than ever to have a skilled and experienced lawyer to help guide you through the process and put your best foot forward.

What factors matter in child custody disputes?

There are two broad categories of child custody disputes. The first involves parents who are newly divorced or who were never married but are separating for the first time. The second involves changing an existing custody situation that has been in force, either by judicial order or by personal agreement of the parties, for a long period of time. Generally speaking, the first kind will be both the most common and the most likely to be changed by the court. Still, there are many times when parents will legitimately need to seek recourse under the second scenario.

There are factors common to both that will weigh heavily in the decision of the court. But changing an existing custody arrangement will generally require stronger evidence of harm to the children.

Factors that will often be decisive in child custody cases and may prove difficult for the party being accused to overcome include:

  • a history of domestic violence,
  • any history of mental illness,
  • direct evidence of child neglect or abuse or
  • negative reports from the forensic evaluator, who may be sent out to the home of one or both of the children to survey the living situation and consider how the kids and parent interact.

If any of these findings run against one of the parents, they will likely not be awarded custody. But a good lawyer can minimize the chances that these factors will negatively apply to their client. A good lawyer can’t ensure the desired outcome, but they can ensure the highest chances of achieving it.

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