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In Long Island and the surrounding areas of New York, the breakdown of a family can be a difficult process to deal with. This is especially true when there are children involved. Parents will frequently engage in a dispute over child custody and visitation. Understanding the law for child custody can be complicated as people engage in the emotional and personal upheaval that accompanies any family law case. Legal help can be imperative. If it is a person or persons for whom English is a second language, having bilingual legal assistance rises to the forefront to an even greater degree.

While many facets are considered with child custody, the best interests of the child may be the most critical. In many aspects of the law, the basics are relatively clear and easy to understand. Property division is commonly the source of disagreement in a divorce, but the law generally requires that marital property be shared by the couple. With children, it is more complex. Therefore, there is no basic standard for the child’s best interests. It is up to the court to decide. The judge in the case will consider how the child will be best-served by the custody and visitation decision. The child’s health and safety is paramount.

Despite many people believing that the mother will almost automatically get custody as a matter of course, the law does not view one parent in a favorable light over the other, regardless of gender. The key is how the child will be cared for. Factors the judge will think about include: the parent who was the main caregiver; the skills each parent has shown in caring for the child; the parents’ mental and physical health; if there was domestic abuse of any kind; work schedules; if there are siblings and the child’s relationship with them; the child’s desires if he or she is of sufficient age and maturity to express it; and the level of cooperation between the parents.

An example of a situation that will consider the child’s best interests does not need to be one in which the parents are at odds. If a mother has provided the bulk of the care and nurturing for a child and there is a known bond, that is essential. The father might not have negative issues in his life, but he might work a great deal and spend less time with the child than the mother. This is not a poor reflection on the father, but the judge could say that the child’s best interests will be served by living with the mother and the father receiving reasonable visitation. In extreme cases in which there is abuse, it is obvious that the judge will think about the child’s best interests in that way.

Whether it is a case that has already been decided and a person wants a modification or the case is just beginning, it is wise to think about how the law will impact the decision. Having comprehensive legal assistance and advice throughout the process can be key. A law firm experienced in family law could be helpful in child custody and visitation.