Fathers’ Rights in New York

Fathers’ Rights in Custody Matters in the State of New York

Father’s rights have come to the forefront when it comes to custody battles in Court. These battles are emotional for both parties as well as for the children at issue. 

Fathers have always faced a difficult challenge ahead of them but especially now as the law on father’s rights evolves.  Historical data suggests that mothers had a greater chance to prevail on a custody case then fathers, but in recent years, fathers’ rights have become more recognized and protected by law.

For instance, the “tender years” doctrine has become outdated, and it is no longer [presumed that the Mother should have the children during infancy. In New York for instance, custody decisions are decided on what is in the best interests of the child. They are decided in the context of a divorce action in Supreme Court or in a Family Court action. You do not necessarily have to get a divorce to fight for your custodial rights because Family Court can hear your case. 

However, once you file a New York divorce action you must alert the Family Court to your divorce filing and then move to consolidate the Family Court action with the Supreme Court divorce action. In either court, the Court uses the same standard in deciding who will be the custodial parent. In this regard, Courts consider a myriad of factors before deciding what is best for a child, such as the child’s relationship with the parents, which parent has the superior ability to provide for the child’s physical, psychological , educational, and emotional needs, and a potential history of abuse, arrest, or neglect.

If you go to a custody trial or fact-finding, and if you disagree with a lower court’s decision and are sure that the lower court made a legal error you can appeal your child custody case to a higher court.  But in my opinion and experience the Appellate Courts do not customarily reverse trial court decisions since a trial court has the firsthand knowledge of the witnesses, the parties, and the proceedings.

Despite a nonbiased standard of best interests, fathers’ rights have been challenging as they have often faced bias as Courts used to assume somehow that mothers were better caregivers to children, and fathers were better financial providers. This has now changed dramatically and Fathers who sue for custody now stand a very good chance of obtaining custody if they can show that it is in furtherance of the best interests of the children that they be appointed the custodial parent. In many cases, the court looks at the bond that is established between the Father and child, and the nurturing of the child, in order to determine where the child should live. As such, if you are looking to secure custody make sure you have spent sufficient time and energy on the child so that you have established a good bond that would further the child’s best interests.

Many times, the Father might face false allegations of child abuse or neglect. Watch out for these allegations as a child can be coached by either parent to say things about the other parent.  The Courts are very wary of such conduct and see it with a jaundiced eye.  If a parent continues to make such false allegations, they are sometimes deemed “per se unfit” because in doing so they are not able to foster a good relationship between the child and the noncustodial parent. Another thing to do is join father rights groups who will share with you what they have gone through and what has helped them in their custody case.

To conclude, the Courts these days favor involvement of both parents in the lives of the children, as it should b. But if you feel you are being cut out from the life of your child seek a top New York divorce lawyer who can assist you in Court to secure your rights as a parent.  It is key to have a lawyer help you navigate as child custody matter often involve day to day decisions that can impact your case. I hope this helps you in assessing what to do if you are a Father who is trying to secure legal or physical custody. This article is not deemed legal advice and is solely for informational purposes. Thank you.

By Lisa Beth Older
Your New York Divorce Lawyer 

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