Rieger & Fried LLP

HOW IS CUSTODY DEFINED IN NEW YORK STATE?

Sole legal custody gives one parent the right to make decisions regarding the child. New York Law favors one parent having sole custody, although most other states do not. The philosophy of New York Courts is that if the parties are not getting along, then one party must be in a position to make final decisions. The only way one can obtain joint legal custody is if one can show that the parties work well together and are of the same opinions in their decision making for the children.

Sole legal custody gives that parent the right to decide the child's medical treatment, religion, educational issues, extra curricular activities and the like. If one does not have joint legal custody but only rights of visitation, then under the law, that parent is not entitled to medical records or school records. Accordingly, it is crucial for the non-custodial parent to have the right to be provided with medical and educational records in either in a court decision or in a stipulation of settlement.

Residential custody is with whom the child primarily resides. This is important for child support which will be paid by the non-residential parent even if there is joint legal custody. The residential parent always has a "leg up" in disputes since that parent is with the child(ren) most of the time. That parent usually is better situated to make final decisions in the event of a dispute.

Visitation or access time may be anything agreed to by the parties. To the extent that there is a normal schedule, it is alternate weekends, one evening for dinner during the week, alternate holidays, alternate school vacations and two weeks in the summer. However, if the parties agree or if the judge orders, more expansive access may be provided to the non-custodial (non-residential) parent. For example, there is nothing precluding mid-week overnight access nor alternate weekend access from starting at either a Thursday evening and ending on a Monday or Tuesday evening. Specificity is important such as pick up and drop off times as well as location. It is also important to define starting and ending times of holidays. In particular, Thanksgiving may be the entire Thanksgiving weekend or only the day.

In the event of joint custody, parties may agree to have a "tie breaker" such as a professional, i.e. pediatrician for medical decisions, principal for school decisions, priest/minister/rabbi for religious decision. Normally, parties do not agree to such tie breakers where they believe it is better for the parents to make this decision. There also may be "spheres of influence" which divide up final decision making depending on the issue. For example, one parent may have final decision making on educational issues while the other parent has final decision making on medical issues.

If the parties cannot agree, then ultimately the court will make a decision on custody based on "the best interests of the child." This is a very broad standard that is fact sensitive. In order to assist the court in custody matters, an attorney for the children (law guardian) and/or forensic mental health professional may be appointed by the court. The cost of these professionals is normally shared by the parties on a pro rata basis.

At Rieger & Fried, LLP, we represent individuals in deteriorating and in some cases abusive marriages who need to move on with their lives. At Rieger & Fried, LLP, we are not just aggressive litigators, but offer our clients compassion and understanding in these trying times. If you have any questions that need answers about your particular situation, we invite you to call our office and schedule an appointment or consultation.

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  • "Rieger and Fried is the finest law firm to hire. I got the best outcome any client can hope for in a custody case: sole residential and legal custody of my two children. I hired the firm four years ago; my case was a highly contested interstate divorce and custody. The delay in my case was due to the opposing party. My case was handled by Michael Fried who is the most ethical professional I have met. Michael focused on facts of law and documentation to protect my children's legal rights. Michael is efficient, prompt, and helped me for years through the most difficult time of my life. The paperwork was filed on time. The motions were carefully researched and submitted. Michael made sure that he documented all communication with opposing counsel.

    Michael was involved in the evaluation of my ex-husband's medical practice, meeting with me and the forensic accountant. Michael is highly organized and detail-oriented. He tracked down the most important financial documentation to prove my ex-husband's income in order to determine child support.

    Michael prepared me for trial and was keen about details and how to highlight my role as the primary care giver for my children. I went through 16 days of trial during which Michael moved away from his family to stay in Brooklyn in order to meet with me daily before trial to review every single detail. He emailed me in the evenings to make sure all evidence was in place.

    When emotions ran high and opposing counsel was provocative during trial, Michael maintained his calm and represented me and my children wholeheartedly. Michael is the best lawyer any client can hope for, and I am ever so grateful that he handled my case."
  • So many people tell you, “Oh, I’ve got the BEST lawyer for you.â€? Or, “This guy is the absolutely the BEST lawyer to handle your case – the BEST!â€? When in a divorce situation, you hear a lot of this. But, when you are in a situation so foreign to any experience you have ever gone through, there is so much more that is important. It is not the lawyer, who may look great and have a career of flashy litigation. It all comes down to the entire TEAM of individuals working in your best interest. It comes down to their sincere dedication to every minor detail regarding your case, and, most importantly, understanding, and reacting to your mental frame-of-reference, sensitive to the fact that a divorce is one of the most traumatic events one can go through. This level of competence is the consistent apex at which Rieger & Fried operate each and every day. Not only is a successful outcome of the litigation an ultimate priority of the relationship — through over-the-top competence — but their understanding of a client’s well-being, who is probably completely out of their depth in a divorce proceeding, that really sets Rieger & Fried apart from all other firms. Hats off to Rieger & Fried… truly the BEST. SD
  • Kieth and Michael were instrumental in the positive and fair outcome of my case. From the start, they set realistic expectations. They fought hard on — and won — the critical issues that arose during the course of my case. I am extremely happy with their services; I highly recommend them! Melissa J.
  • Michael Fried was very professional and supportive during a very difficult period in my life. He worked very hard to look out for my interests while trying to come to a fair and equitable agreement. I would highly recommend him. Cathy C.
  • Kieth Rieger navigated my divorce with the expertise of a highly skilled negotiator. He is the consummate divorce attorney: determined, effective and compassionate. Rebecca H.
  • Keith headed the team that navigated me through the most difficult time of my life. My divorce was very lengthy and uglier than most. Keith litigated brilliantly and made certain the outcome would be just and fair. Karen D.
  • The Firm Rieger & Fried handled all my family concerns with the utmost respect and professionalism. Joshua Rieger is not just a attorney with the vast knowledge of Matrimonial law and Family Law, he is in tune with his clients , and understands the important challenges they face. The Firm Rieger & Fried protected my interests from start to finish ,and are truly a cut above the rest. Jason B.
  • Kieth Rieger is a superior attorney and I was able to benefit from his ability to process large volumes of information quickly and formulate effective strategy. Kieth was extremely accommodating and sensitive when he represented my case yet firm and commanding when warranted. Soo L.
  • Let’s face it, going through a divorce can be long and nerve-wracking process during which you can be excruciatingly vulnerable. Keith proved to be the sharp, savvy, efficient, frugal and empathetic attorney I needed to be able to achieve a timely and favorable outcome. Jay E.
  • As a fellow attorney, I was aware of your reputation as a skilled and highly regarded matrimonial lawyer. Your representation of my interests in my own divorce confirmed what I had heard; I received outstanding counsel. Thank you for your advice and guidance and for an excellent result. Richard R.
  • When I considered getting a divorce, I wanted to assert my rights while at the same time making sure I wasn’t being unfair to my spouse, and preserving the good relationship I had with my children. You took the time to understand what I was hoping to achieve, and dealt fairly with me and with my spouse. I understand that matrimonial law is inherently adversarial, but I felt that you helped keep it from being more adversarial than absolutely necessary. The end result: a settlement in which both sides got what we needed, in which my parenting relationship with my ex is a productive and civil one, and in which the children are comfortable and cared for. It’s hard to be excited about a divorce, particularly one that ends up in the courts, but you made it as fair and painless as possible, and I thank you for it. Jonathan W.
  • Kieth Rieger made me realize the divorce process is not about showmanship in the courtroom but simply the facts. Eric W.
  • Despite the reputation of divorce lawyers’ being heartless and all about the money, Kieth Rieger was kind, compassionate and willing to work with me financially. When I had a problem making a payment he didn’t threaten to drop me as a client but rather came up with a fair and reasonable payment arrangement. Sharon S.
  • Kieth Rieger and Michael Fried handled my recent marriage litigation. During the entire process both were very professional and always available to answer my many questions. I would highly recommend both if you have this type of litigation. Patrick P.
  • Faced with a contentious divorce 12 years ago, I turned to Kieth Rieger to represent me. I found not only brilliant legal advice, but strong support and calming guidance that came at a critical time. All these years later I returned to him to help me write a pre-nup agreement as I begin a new life. He is a trusted professional who I have recommended many, many times. Amy D.
  • Keith Rieger , My Superlawyer, who checked his ego at the door, rolled up his sleeves, fought for me and my girls, and won in the end. If you want a smart, honest, hardworking lawyer who really cares about his clients, look no further. Lauren L.
  • Going through my divorce was very draining and emotional. Kieth helped me through this time in my life, he made me feel comfortable and at ease that everything would be fine. He and his staff treated me as if I was family. It turned out just the way he said it would. I would recommend this firm to family, friends and anyone that needs a Divorce attorney. Mr. Rieger and associates are hardworking, caring and extremely intelligent. Thank you for giving me a new beginning! Sharyn S.
  • Keith Rieger helped me tremendously during a very difficult divorce. He worked with me financially, and had great empathy for my situation. Your great legal and personal advice were invaluable. Maryanne J.
  • Kieth Rieger guided me through my divorce with incredible professionalism, insight and expertise. Kieth worked tirelessly to achieve the resolution I desired and did everything in his power to realize that outcome efficiently. I highly recommend Keith and the team at Rieger & Fried LLP. Stephen E.
  • Rieger & Fried LLP helped me every step of the way in the process of my divorce. They were adept at walking me through all of the potential options that were available for me. They were focused on resolving our marital issues fairly and with a sense of dignity rarely seen in this field of law. Brian M.