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What Is Child Custody in New York?


As a seasoned New York family law attorney, mediator, and psychologically-trained medical professional, I regularly advise mothers and fathers going through divorce who are considering a custody action.

For those couples who can agree on custody, I help them make amicable custody decisions. For those spouses who cannot agree on custody, I fight for what is in the best interest of the child.

Often these concerned parents have a fair amount of misconceptions as to what custody actually means.

From the outset, it’s important to know that custody is not just about where the child resides physically. It’s about the right to make major decisions on matters which includes the child’s residence, education, medical care, and religious upbringing.

In my more than 35 years of experience, I’ve witnessed custody battles that can be vicious, lengthy, excessively expensive, and painful for the children.

For parents going through a divorce, if you want to be sure you make the right choice when it comes to your child’s custody – put your child first and consider that there are peaceful methods for settling a custody dispute.

Consider the following:

1. Mediators

A mediator is a third party who can help negotiate an acceptable agreement. This is a person who helps spouses communicate but doesn’t make any decisions for them. Someone who can save you time and tens of thousands of dollars. I have successfully navigated agreements with creative solutions for parents that have been in the best interest of the child and the family. Why fight and spend money over an issue that can be discussed rationally and resolved civilly.

2. Lawyers Who Negotiate Out of Court

Lawyers who negotiate out of court is as straightforward as it sounds. It’s for spouses who tell their attorneys to try to stay out of court. This may be an option when spouses have engaged in threatening, deceptive, or manipulative behavior between each other. Unable to resolve conflict on their own, they must come to a reasonable solution using their attorneys outside of the courtroom.

3. Parent Coordinator

A parent coordinator is a relatively new practice used in some states to manage ongoing issues in high-conflict child custody and visitation cases. This is usually performed by a professional psychologist or a social worker assigned by the Court. The coordinator meets with both parents regularly, handles questions and complaints, and makes recommendations to the mother and father. These are usually supported by the judge.

There are times when using the court to settle child custody is necessary. But understand that judges can make decisions about the future of your children without having all of the facts or a true understanding of the psychological dynamics within your family. This option is often the priciest and most risky.

If you have any questions regarding a peaceful, creative, and less expensive approach to child custody, please call me at 212.734.1551.

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic all our FREE 1 HOUR CONSULTATIONS are conveniently conducted virtually to reduce risk.

I look forward to helping you make custody decisions that are in the best interest of your child and your family.

Stay healthy and safe!

Warm regards,


New York Divorce lawyer Lois Brenner is offering a free child custody consultation.

Call 212.734.1551

We have a few openings still available this week.