Child Custody Disputes: Primary Caretaker as a factor

On May 2, 2012, in Divorce, Family Law, by John A. Weber IV, ESQ.

Primary Caretaker as a Factor in Child Custody Disputes.

Often, when contemplating a child custody dispute, a parent may expect to be awarded custody of a child simply because that parent has spent more time raising or caring for the child. Depending on the circumstances, however, a court may or may not award custody to such a parent.

The New York Domestic Relations Law – which governs issues such as child custody, divorce, and other family law matters – contains the following language.

In all cases there shall be no prima facie right to the custody of the child in either parent, but the court shall determine solely what is for the best interest of the child, and what will best promote its welfare and happiness, and make award accordingly.

With this language, the New York Legislature has directed courts to award custody based on what the court believes to be in the best interests of the child. Courts consider all aspects of a child’s living arrangements and relations with parents when making custody decisions. The fact that one parent has acted as the primary caretaker of the child will certainly be taken into account. But a court will not award custody to either parent for this reason alone. This may seem unfair to some parents. But again, the court’s sole concern in custody determinations is the best interest of the child. Courts are not concerned with redressing grievances between parents, or compensating a parent for his or her investment in a child’s well-being.

If you are currently facing a child custody dispute, or are concerned that you may be facing one in the future, The Law Firm of VAUGHN & WEBER, PLLC is here to assist you.  We are conveniently located in the heart of Nassau County, Long Island, at 393 Jericho Turnpike, Suite #208, Mineola, NY 11501.  Call (516) 858-2620 to speak with a Family Law Attorney today!

*Contributions to the research and preparation of this blog were made by Jason Mays, J.D. (awaiting admission in NYS)

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