Custody Explained by a Westchester County Custody Lawyer

As experienced Family Law and Divorce attorneys with offices in White Plains, New York we educate our clients regarding every aspect of their case. One of the most common questions asked by our clients involves custody disputes over child(ren).

Our law firm aggressively handles all custody matters. We keep our client's informed about the status of their case and always remain available to speak in the event of an emergency or answer a general question. We return telephone calls, e-mails and we make sure our client's voices are heard.

Custody Includes:

Physical Custody – This is the determination of where a child will live either with the mother or the father. Joint physical custody, when the parents share equally time with a child, is rare and usually only occurs when the parents get along well and have an agreement as to joint physical custody.


Legal Custody – This is the determination regarding which parent has decision making authority over a child's health, safety, education and welfare. Joint legal custody is fairly common giving each party input into the important decision regarding a child but usually the physical custodial parent has final decision making authority.

The New York Custody Courts

The New York State Court the Family Court and the Supreme Court have authority to issue judicial orders regarding any child under the age of 18.

In a litigated custody battle courts are reluctant to award any type of joint custody after trial. After a trial the courts consider the parents are unable to co-parent, communicate or effectively manage matters involving the child. This results in one parent obtaining sole physical and legal custody.

Child Support

Physical custody plays an important part in determining child support. The parent who has physical custody of a child is entitled to child support from the non-custodial parent. Also, the law allows the physical custodial parent to claim the child as a dependent on their tax returns. This tax issue can be negotiated, especially in divorce actions.

If the parents share joint physical custody that can eliminate or lessen a child support obligation. It is important to keep track of the days of the month a child is with each parent as there could be a change in custody if one parent starts having a child at their residence as compared to the other parent.

The Determination of Custody:

Courts consider many factors when determining custody and apply the "best interest of the child standard" that includes the following:

  • Who is or has been the primary caretaker of the child
  • Each parents "parenting skills"
  • The physical and mental health of the parents
  • Each parent's work schedules
  • The child's preference only is considered depending on the maturity and age of the child

The Family Court Judge or Supreme Court Judge may hold a "Lincoln Hearing" to meet with the child privately. The Judge use this opportunity to determine the relationship the child has with each parent and the extent a parent may be "brain washing" or "coaching" a child about what to do or say.

The Attorney for the Child (Law Guardian)

The Family Court and Supreme Court will appoint an attorney to represent a child or the children of the parties. The attorney for the child will meet with the child and can speak with the parents regarding the child and the child's best interest. The attorney for the child will advocate for the child or children.

Depending on the financial circumstances of the parties the parents may be required to pay the attorney of the child's legal fees or the attorney for the child may be appointed by the court and paid for by the State.

Our Legal Team

At Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP we are a legal team. We use our collective experience and knowledge to aggressively work for our clients. We understand the importance of your case and we will do everything possible to protect your rights so you can obtain custody or keep custody of your children.

We are available for a free initial consultation. Feel free to contact us by telephone or e-mail.