Facts to Know About Syracuse Child Custody Laws

“Parenting time” is the modern term for visitation in Syracuse courts. Physical custody refers to where your child resides most of the time. Sometimes it is awarded jointly, and the child resides with each parent fifty percent of the time. Joint custody can also mean the parents share custody, but the child resides primarily with one parent with substantial time with the other, though not equal amounts of time. In some cases, sole physical custody is awarded to one parent and the non-custodial parent is granted scheduled parenting time with the child.

Legal custody refers to which parent or parents have the right to have input before making major life decisions involving the child, such as those related to schooling, religion, extracurricular activities, and medical treatments. Courts in Syracuse normally grant joint legal custody so that both parents may cooperate in making decisions for their child, provided the parents are able to cooperate for parenting issues and maintain civility and respect, as this arrangement is always in the child’s best interests.

Factors in Child Custody Determinations

Custody may be awarded to either parent in a dissolving marriage or a non-married separating household, but the decision the court makes is always based on the best interests of the child. The goal is to provide a stable and loving environment for the child with as little disruption as possible, and the regulations outlined in New York Domestic Relations Law §240 and FCA § 651 are structured with this in mind.

Some of the factors a Syracuse Family or Supreme Court Judge may examine in order to achieve this include:

  • Physical and mental health of both spouses
  • Which parent was the majority caregiver before separation
  • Work schedules of both parents
  • Abuse issues
  • Wishes of the child, if applicable
  • Geographic locations of each parent’s house in relation to the child’s primary residence, school district or extracurricular activities
  • Location of other siblings and third parties actively involved with the child
  • Child’s involvement in the community
Modifications to Custody Arrangements

Family circumstances change, and parenting plans may need modification from time to time. As your child grows older, a new school may provide better opportunities, or a change in your or the other parent’s lives may dictate a change in custody or parenting time.

As established in NY DRL §240(j) and FCA Article 6, an application for modification of a prior Judgment of Divorce or prior Family Court Order may be brought to request a change in an established custody order. To be successful, the modification request must demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances since the last order was made, that warrants an adjustment to an established custody order, and that the change requested is in the child’s best interests.

Some typical reasons might be relocation of a parent, access to better opportunities for the child with the non-custodial parent, alienation from a parent, domestic violence, or parental abuse. As always, the court will utilize the best interests of the child when granting or denying a motion for modification.

Get Assistance From a Syracuse Family Law Attorney Today

In Syracuse courts, the best interests of your child are of paramount importance. Our team of experienced family law attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC understand the legal system and can help you put together a custody arrangement that follows the rules, and is fair and reasonable in the eyes of the court as well as to each parent and child.

A Syracuse family law attorney who is experienced in the courtroom can and will zealously advocate for your rights as a parent. Call (315) 492-4700 or email info@tullylegal.com to set up a consultation and get professional assistance with your case.

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