When you are starting a custody process, it is common to experience intense emotions and realities. How will you determine who has physical custody, care, and supervision of your child or children? For many families, custody processes can be challenging and stressful.
You do not have to advocate for yourself alone. An experienced Syracuse Family Law attorney can advocate for you at every step of the process.
Filing for Custody in Syracuse
The process for filing for custody in New York begins with coming to court. The New York Courts website provides an overview of the custody process, forms, and costs.
When you come to court, you may have a choice to file a custody petition and have your case heard in front of a judge or court attorney-referee. Or, you may have your case referred to mediation.
Key Steps of the Child Custody Process in New York
The court process in New York can be divided into seven key steps. There may be additional steps, depending on each unique case. You may be able to skip some of these steps or rearrange the order of the steps.
Preparation and Research
This is the stage where you consider options for sole or joint custody. You can meet with a Family Law lawyer to strategize your best approach.
Legal separation and divorce cases go through the supreme court. Other custody-related cases go through family court. Examples of these include a custody petition, domestic violence restraining order, or paternity cases.
Under New York law, the judge evaluates what is in the child’s best interests and must consider if proof of domestic violence is a factor. NY Dom Rel Law § 240 (1) (a)
Step 2. Separation Hearing
If you are seeking a legal separation, expect a hearing approximately 40 days after being officially notified, also known as ‘service.’
Step 3. Preliminary Court Date
If your case is in family court, you will receive notice about three weeks after you file your custody petition. Typically, only lawyers and parents representing themselves appear at this time.
This is the process where both parents request and provide information. This often includes financial records, parenting plans, affidavits, or conferences.
Step 5. Pretrial Conference
A conference is your last chance to settle before a trial. If you decide to settle, you may be able to proceed to the final step. If not, the conference focuses on trial plans such as evidence and witnesses.
In trials, each side explores the evidence, questions witnesses, and presents their case to a judge. Depending on the complexity, this can take days or months.
Step 7. Final Custody Order
A judge will sign a final custody order explaining the rules that both parents must follow. This may be appealed, in the future, to a higher court. Orders may be modified as children grow older.
Contact a Syracuse Family Law Attorney
If you are considering child custody, having compassionate professional advice can ensure all your questions are answered. We have years of experience handling child custody support cases at Nave Law, and we talk with you today.