Albany courts use the “best interests of the child” standard in making decisions about child visitation and custody. Under this standard, the interests of the children come before the wishes of the parents or any other consideration. Judges, in applying this standard, evaluate the following factors:
1. Ability to Deliver Care and Essentials. Providing love, guidance, education, food, clothing, medical care, and time is critical to children’s well-being. Courts consider each parent’s: (a) commitment to the children, (b) time spent caring for the children prior to and during the divorce, and (c) time available for the children post-divorce.
2. Safety of the Children. While most courts understand reasonable physical discipline, a history of physical abuse will drastically affect visitation and custody rights. Also, consistent with the notion of harm to the health of children, courts prefer non-smoking households.
3. Continuity and Stability. Residing with the same parent in the same household can be an important consideration for judges because they want to reduce the disruption caused by divorce. For similar reasons, courts rarely place siblings in different households.
4. Children’s Preferences. To a lesser extent, courts may consider older children’s desires when setting visitation and custody, so long as the children’s reasons are ones the court feels are sensible and in the children’s best interests (e.g., maintain ties with friends, stay in the same school, remain on a sports team).
5. Cooperative Parent. Courts prefer that children receive love and guidance from two parents rather than one, so they lean toward the parent who is best able to work toward that goal. A parent who has failed to cooperate with dual parenting will have a difficult time obtaining more visitation or custody.
The most common way to start handling visitation and custody disputes is in court-ordered mediation. If mediation is unsuccessful, or if violence is involved in the family scenario, the court will step in. Mediation is usually confidential so that what is said there will not subsequently be mentioned in court.
If you want or need help with your Albany visitation or custody dispute, complete the form to your right to speak with an experienced visitation and custody attorney.
Albany Child Visitation: Tips for Success
If you meet with an Albany child visitation attorney to learn how to have successful child visitation in your two home family, you will likely receive tips like these:
1. Compromise Beats Litigation. Visitation and custody disputes are expensive, hard to stop once they begin, and, most important, they cause long-term damage to children. It is far better to give in on an issue than let it lead to an all-out war.
2. Focus on Your Children. For visitation matters, put your children’s interests before your own. Ask, “Where should they spend most of their time?” Not, “How can I get the children to spend more time with me?” Reduce the number of disruptive transitions between households, even if it costs you time with your children.
3. Keep Both Parents Involved. Your children want time with both parents. That is what they had before the divorce, and they want it to continue. Studies show that involved parents are more likely to meet their financial obligations. Structure an arrangement that gives both of you time with your children.
4. Avoid Disparagement. Your children love and respect both you and your former spouse. Do nothing that tarnishes those feelings. Do not speak ill of your former spouse, do not restrict digital or telephonic access, limit your children’s discussions of activities with your former spouse, or ask your children to choose between the two of you.
5. Keep Transitions Friendly. Try to smile and be cordial when exchanging the children. Otherwise, the children will sense your negative feelings. At all costs, avoid arguing with your former spouse in front of the children. Every visible fight is traumatic for them, especially in the vulnerable state your divorce has left them.
6. Start Small. Begin your negotiations with common ground. When negotiating visitation and custody, start with points you believe you and your spouse can agree upon. Maybe one parent always went to certain sporting events or activities.; Agree that the arrangement will continue. Then move onto the next easiest item. Starting with points of agreement will make tougher issues easier.
7. Remain Flexible. Time will bring changes that require adaptation. You or your former spouse may acquire a new partner. One of you may move closer to relatives or a new job. A child may change schools, or ask to live with the other parent. Do not turn every needed modification into a battle. Keep your focus on what is best for the children.
If you want or need the advice and assistance of an Albany child visitation attorney, complete the form to your right.