Many New York fathers still face an uphill battle in custody court. Traditional notions of the mother being a child’s primary caregiver still persist.
New York, like most states, uses a “best interest of the child” standard when determining custody.
Shared custody is assumed to be in a child’s best interest
The court should start with the assumption that shared custody is in a child’s best interest, but as a father trying to assert your rights, it can still be hard for fathers to overcome the traditional assumption that a child should be with their mother most of the time.
Sometimes, you and the child’s mother can work out a custody agreement between yourselves. When you cannot, you find yourself facing a custody trial, and may be worried about your chances in court.
There are some helpful strategies that you can use as you prepare for your custody trial. These tips can help you whether you are seeking sole or shared custody, although sole custody is generally hard to get, for both fathers and mothers.
Promote your strengths as a father
No matter what type of custody you are seeking, your case should focus more on how your child will benefit from spending time with you.
Prepare evidence showing your involvement in your child’s life and how you can best meet all their needs, including their educational, medical and emotional needs.
Gathering your evidence
Evidence at a custody trial usually comes from your testimony, witness testimony and photographs. Prepare to testify about things you do with your child and provide photos of your home environment.
You can also present documents such as medical reports, report cards or anything else proving that you take an active interest in your child’s life.
It is best to always have professional legal representation in your custody case. An attorney can represent your best interests in court and fight for your right to custody.