1. How is child custody determined?
Custody is generally determined by considering what is in the "best interest of the child". A number of factors are taken into consideration in determining the best interest of the child. These include the mental and physical health, financial situation, religion, parenting skills, and lifestyle of each parent, as well as the child's age, gender, special-needs, current living situation, and relationship with each parent.
In cases in which one parent is not clearly favorable over the other, the court will place more weight on trying to identify which parent is best able to maintain stability in the child's life and foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent.
There are a number of different types of child custody arrangements. These include legal, physical, sole, joint, and shared custody.
2. What are the grounds for divorce in New York?
In order to be granted a divorce in New York State, you must establish an appropriate statutory ground (i.e., a legally acceptable reason). Under a new "no-fault" provision which became effective in early 2011, such a statutory ground now includes a showing that the relationship between you and your spouse has broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months. The remaining grounds, which range from adultery to abandonment, all require a greater level of proof. Fault is rarely a factor in determining the financial aspects of the case.
3. If my ex-spouse re-marries, do I have to continue to pay maintenance and/or child support?
The length of payments and termination of support will be determined by your agreement and/or the judgment of divorce.
Maintenance is designed to give a spouse economic independence and will generally continue only as long as required to allow the recipient to become financially self-sufficient. Maintenance generally terminates after a specific period of time, or upon remarriage by the spouse receiving support, whichever happens first.
Child support is money used for the benefit of your children, and your responsibility to pay child support does not end if your spouse remarries. In most cases, child support ends when your child becomes twenty-one years of age. Child support goes to the parent with whom your child primarily resides.