Question

Are mothers always awarded custody in New York?

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Joan Iacono

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Joan Iacono

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Answered by: Joan Iacono

IaconoLaw
Bronxville, NY
Phone: 914-961-0565

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Answer

While the answer may previously have been yes in many cases, now the answer is no.

What Has Changed

In the past, the presumption used to be that the mother was awarded primary physical custody, which often included primary legal custody (decision-making rights) as well. With the emphasis now on the best interests of the children, however, the courts are really taking a detailed look at both parents to give them equal custodial rights. This has been shown to be better for the children in most cases.

What Is Taken Into Consideration

The courts evaluate a wide range of factors when determining custody awards, including:

  • Who really is the one caring for the children, not just the one who is more financially stable
  • Who is providing emotional support
  • Who is providing physical care for the children
  • Who schedules and takes the children to doctor appointments
  • Who stays home if a child is sick and both parties work
  • Who taking children to and from extracurricular activities

Of course, these are not the only things the courts look at, but they are an example of how far things have come in taking a multifaceted view of how each parent is uniquely involved in the children’s lives and how a custody order may impact that involvement.

Mother, Father – Gender Doesn’t Matter

Courts do not place any emphasis on gender anymore. Any family may not be “traditional” in the historical sense and as a result, it is best to evaluate each situation based on what each parent brings to enhance the children’s lives. Many LGBT families also have custody concerns and these families are in the same situation, with the courts evaluating the parents on an individual basis and seeing how the children’s lives are impacted by each parent.

Working Parents Vs. Stay-At-Home Parents

Whether a parent works or has been a stay-at-home parent is taken into consideration, but is not something that would be advantageous or detrimental to a parent obtaining custody. A parent who works may think that would leave him or her with less custody than a stay-at-home parent; a parent who stays home may think he or she doesn’t make enough money to have the kids more. Neither of these situations is correct.

Again, overall in any situation, they are evaluated by the courts on a case-by-case basis. It is essential to talk through your questions and concerns with a qualified attorney so you understand your rights and options before you go to court. That will give you a better idea what to expect and how you can anticipate any custody orders that may be issued.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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