Custody Cases in Staten Island Family Court

What Is an Order of Custody?

An order of custody gives responsibility for the care, control and maintenance of a child to one or both of the child’s parents or to another party.

Who May File a Petition for an Order of Custody in Staten Island Family Court?

A parent, grandparent or a person with a substantial connection or relationship with a child, who resides in Staten Island, may file a petition in Staten Island Family Court requesting that the court place the child in his or her custody. A copy of the petition and a summons must be served upon (delivered personally to) the person or parties who presently have custody of the child. If the child’s parents are separated and one parent seeks a custody order, that parent must have the papers served upon the other parent. If a non-parent is seeking custody of the child, then both of the child’s parents must be served.

There are no filing fees in Staten Island Family Court.

What Happens at the Hearing?

If the parties agree about custody of the child, the judge may take testimony from both parties and enter an order of custody on consent, without the need for a formal hearing. If the parties cannot reach an agreement about custody, the court will hold a hearing, taking testimony from both sides, and may appoint a lawyer to represent the child. The court may order an investigation and report from a social services agency or mental health professional. After considering the evidence presented, the court will award custody based upon what is in the child’s best interests.

In some counties in New York City, including Staten Island, a custody or visitation case may be heard by a Family Court “court attorney-referee”, who may hear and decide the case and issue orders.

What Is an Order of Visitation?

A parent seeking to visit with a child may file a petition in Family Court against the person or persons who have custody of the child. Custody and visitation matters are often heard together within the same hearing, but a visitation petition may also be filed as a separate matter. Other family members, such as grandparents or siblings, may also file a petition seeking an order of visitation. The court will order visitation if it is in the child’s best interests.

Must the Parties Have Lawyers to Represent Them?

The parties to custody matters may represent themselves or hire lawyers. We recommend that any person who has a serious dispute involving custody should always consult Family Law attorneys who have substantial experience handling these matters. Our firm has over 35 years of experience handling difficult custody and visitation cases. Even if you are unsure about whether to hire an attorney to represent you in Staten Island Family Court, why not protect yourself by making an appointment for a confidential 30 minute consultation with an experienced Family Court attorney at our law firm – the cost is only $150? In some cases, when a party has little income and cannot afford to hire a lawyer, the judge may appoint a lawyer at no cost. The judge may also appoint a lawyer to represent the child; this lawyer was formerly called the “law guardian”, and is now frequently called the “attorney for the child”.

Can a Custody or Visitation Order Be Changed?

Either party may file a petition to have a custody or visitation order modified (changed). The party seeking to have the order modified must prove that there has been a substantial change of circumstances since the original order was issued. The court holds a hearing to determine if a change is in the child’s best interests

What Happens If One Side Interferes with the Custody or Visitation That Was Ordered by the Court?

If a court order gives certain custody or visitation rights to a party and the other party fails to obey the order, the complaining party may file a petition alleging a violation of the order. After the court holds a hearing, the judge may change the order and/or impose sanctions on the party who has failed to comply with the order.

Been served with a petition seeking custody of your children?

If you have been served with a petition from Staten Island Family Court seeking an award of custody of your children, we urge you to call our office immediately to make an appointment to meet with an experienced Family Law attorney. Mr. Leininger has over 35 years of experience handling difficult custody cases! Nothing is worse than losing custody of your children! So learn your rights at an Initial Consultation. The fee is only $150 for up to 30 minutes, and if you hire our firm within 30 days, we will credit the Consultation fee of $150 back to your account! Appointments are available 6 days per week – Monday through Saturday for your convenience.