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What if parents cannot agree on custody and parenting time?

On Behalf of | Apr 25, 2024 | Child Custody |

New York family law cases can be particularly difficult when children are involved. While there are often news reports of complicated cases in which allegations between the parents fly back and forth amid an extended dispute over who gets custody and how visitation is arranged, not every case is like that. Often, parents simply cannot stay together in a relationship and want the best for their kids.

Still, that does not mean it will be an easy road to formulate a custody and parenting time schedule that everyone is satisfied with. When the parents cannot create their own agreement, the case will need to be addressed through the legal system. That means the sides need to be prepared for the hearing. Knowing the facts is a first step.

Understand how a hearing is structured

If the case needs to go before a judge, the primary objective is to determine the child’s best interests and organize a custody and parenting time plan that will best suit their needs. For example, if the child has formed a stronger bond with one parent and that parent has more time to dedicate to raising the child, there is a good chance that parent will get primary custody. That does not mean the other parent is viewed negatively. If they show they are caring and attentive, they will get parenting time.

In a contested case over custody and parenting time, the parties can bring witnesses to help their case. That can include relatives, friends and people who have been present to see the parents’ interaction with the child and played a role in the child’s life. In some instances, there might be a licensed professional like a psychologist or case worker who has interviewed the child and observed the parents with the child. This could be necessary if there are accusations of abuse or other problems that needed to be resolved with professional guidance.

The witnesses will testify during the case. The judge can read and assess reports regarding the child’s welfare. The child’s best interests are paramount in any case. Part of that is whether the child will have a safe environment and be provided with everything they need to develop and live a fruitful life.

The judge will might ask if the child is in a safe environment regardless of which parent they are with at the time. They will want to know the child has everything they need for proper nutrition, education, health care, extracurricular activities and that neither parent is trying to sabotage the child’s relationship with the other. Even the child can weigh in if they are deemed of age and sufficient maturity.

In cases where domestic violence or other dangerous circumstances are not an issue, the court will want to see that the parents can cooperate for the child’s well-being. An example is being agreeable when the custody exchange is made or if the other parent wants to have the child for a specific holiday or special occasion.

Parents must understand the process with custody and parenting time

Although a family law case involving children can be complicated, it does not necessarily need to be acrimonious. Being aware of the process from the start and how a court case is organized can be essential with reaching a positive outcome. This is true in relatively friendly cases and more difficult ones in which both parents want maximum time with the child. Being prepared is a crucial component to reaching a good result for everyone involved.