Child Custody

Until children reach the age of eighteen, their care and control is the responsibility of their parents. In an intact family both parents have this responsibility. Where parents are not living together, the responsibility can be sole, divided, or joint, denominated as “zones of responsibilities” or “spheres of influence”.

With sole custody one parent makes the final decision in specific significant areas. With divided (or split) custody each parent has final decision-making in designated areas. With joint custody both parents must agree. Where there is failure to agree, mechanisms engage to forge an understanding. Often these arrive in the form of a third party who assists in the decision-making. At times, these decisions are left to the court or an arbitration proceeding.

Custody is one of the most difficult and delicate areas of family law. Doing it well requires keen knowledge of child development, of psychology and its myriad of personality issues, as well as an innate grasp of the detrimental effects of conflict on children. Dobrish Michaels Gross is known throughout New York State for its expertise and sensitivity in this area. In addition to their writing and lecturing on these topics, attorneys from the firm are called upon frequently by other lawyers to consult or co-counsel on these type of cases.

A major vein of custody is where a child resides. If there is not an even sharing of time (measured by overnights), then the parent with the greater number of nights is deemed the primary residential parent, as well as the one who is entitled to receive child support from the other parent. There is no sliding scale for child support in New York (as there is in a number of other states), one that provides for more support to be paid if the primary parent increases his or her time with the child. As a result of New York’s current inflexibility, economic issues impact residential custody. Beyond this, significant controversy can arise over the scheduling of overnights and over negative parental influences that coax forth a child’s reluctance to visit. Issues that relate to proper scheduling require an acute ear to the developmental stages of children and the various challenges they face, as well as to the sharing of employees, of clothing, of pets, of information and so much more. Attorneys at Dobrish Michaels Gross not only lecture and write about issues that relate to custody and access, they also regularly speak at and chair conferences where these issues are debated in an interdisciplinary forum. As such, the Firm stays current on bleeding-edge research in the area, perpetually in contact with the most articulate and astute experts in the field, whom the Firm utilizes in situations that emerge in.