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Child Custody

Friday, February 25, 2022

How to Win a Custody Modification Case

  During a divorce, a judge awards custody based on what they perceive to be the best interests of the child at that time. But what if circumstances change and the custody order is no longer best for the child? In that case, you can ask for custody modification.

Requesting custody modification can be an uphill battle, so you want an experienced custody lawyer on your side. At the Gilmer Law Firm, PLLC, we help parents fight for their children.

Attorney George Gilmer has experience arguing before the toughest judges.
Read more . . .

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

What Can Be Used Against You in a Custody Battle?

When you split from the parent of your child, the child custody process can be fraught with overwhelming challenges.
If you’re going through a divorce or separation, we imagine you have concerns about your parenting rights. 

A child custody order often depends on your child’s needs, the judge selected for your case, the other parent’s behavior and circumstances, and your behavior and circumstances. You rarely have a lot of control in a child custody proceeding. However, something you can control is your behavior (and sometimes, your circumstances).
Read more . . .

Saturday, December 18, 2021

How to prove parental alienation in custody disputes. Written by a New York Family Law Attorney

As a Parental Alienation  attorney in New York I have litigated many custody battles involving this issue in both Divorce actions and in Family Court. If you can prove that alienation indeed exists it can justify you being awarded custody or a modification of a current custody order in your favor. Certain fact patterns often exist in parental alienation (PA) cases. It occurs when a child rejects one parent completely due to no fault of that parent. Children that have been alienated express a deep seeded hatred of the other parent and sometimes this animosity is directed to that parent’s extended family as well.

Read more . . .

Sunday, December 12, 2021

How do I win my custody battle in New York?

As a Brooklyn, New York Custody Attorney I have taken numerous custody cases to trial both in Family Court and Supreme Court (in cases of Divorce).  The parent that wins the custody battle is the parent that can show to the Court that it would be in the best interests of the child to be with them.


In determining the best interests of the child the Court will look at the totality of circumstances. The person that wins at a custody trial is the one that presents the best evidence. It is important to know what criteria the Court uses to determine best interests.

Read more . . .

Thursday, May 9, 2019

How does the Court determine best interest of the child in a New York Custody battle? By Brooklyn, NY Family Court Attorney

In order to determine what is in the best interest of a child in a custody case the Court must only make this determination following a full and comprehensive evidentiary hearing.   The New York Courts hold that parents have a fundamental right to custody of their children but neither parent, whether male or female has an absolute has right to the custody of the child or children.


If you have a custody case pending, your Brooklyn, New York  your attorney will help you to build a case in convincing the Court that it is in the best interest of the child to be with you.  The best interest of the child standard is based upon evidence that shows what parent best promotes the child’s welfare and happiness.  


Therefore the Court will first consider the welfare and interests of the children in making its determination.

Read more . . .

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Why won’t the Court give me a DNA test? Equitable estoppel and best interest of a child in a paternity proceeding, by Brooklyn, New York Family Court Attorney.

Many men in Court face this scenario.  They are petitioned to Court to pay child support for a child they do not know whether it’s  theirs and with whom they have had very little contact with.  These men contact me, a Brooklyn Family Court Attorney and ask me if the Court will grant them a DNA test. I tell them that it is complicated, requires good representation and is based on a number of factors.


Another scenario arises where a man, who for various reasons, such as the continuing alienation of the child from him, has not been in his child’s life and wants to be legally established as a father.
Read more . . .

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Court to Weigh Whether Methadone During Pregnancy Equals Child Abuse

In a case closely watched by child safety advocates across the country, the New Jersey Supreme Court is slated to decide whether a pregnant mother who underwent methadone maintenance therapy during gestation should be found guilty in family court of abuse and neglect of her infant son, who was born dependent on the drug.

In Division of Youth and Family Services v. Y.N., both the trial court as well as the state's appellate division have ruled the mother's conduct was a form of abuse and neglect, given the child was born with withdrawal symptoms characterized as severe. He had to be hospitalized for an additional 47 after he was born.

Our Brooklyn ACS defense attorneys recognize the legal reasoning and outcome here could be important for local courts in determining how to proceed in similar cases.

While other courts have held mothers who abuse drugs during pregnancy can be held accountable in criminal and family courts, this case is somewhat unique in that the mother's use of the drug was under the supervision of a doctor. At the time she conceived, she was abusing heroin and painkillers. When she learned she was with child, she began seeing a doctor. Several months later, she started on a methadone treatment program, and entered into a medical facility.

Physicians and other medical staffers warned her that if she immediately stopped using all substances, she could have a miscarriage. Not wanting to risk losing her child, she reportedly believed the best option was to undergo chemical dependency treatment under the care of a doctor.

However, both lower courts held it did not matter whether the drugs were taken legally or illegally. As the woman's criminal defense attorney would later argue to the high court, the appellate court's decision effectively held "medical treatment equals harm." Here, the mother had been told the safest course of action was methadone treatment.

Chief justices posed several possible scenarios:

Would a pregnant woman avoid liability for illegal use of drugs if a doctor told her to continue taking them because withdrawal would be too dangerous?

Would a mother who used methadone on her own, without consultation of a physician, be similarly protected?

Interceding as amicus, the National Advocates for Pregnant Women argued the woman should be cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, asserting methadone treatment overseen by a physician was reasonable for someone in her circumstances.

However, prosecutors representing the state's Division of Child Protection and Permanency, requested the finding be upheld. They say at its core, the case is about the serious risk of harm to the fetus. It was noted the mother had a six-year history of drug abuse, and used other illegal substances throughout part of her pregnancy. The prosecutor asserted to the court the mother was unwilling or unable to provide necessary protection to the child. She indicated other factors played into the final determination of abuse and neglect, but conceded the mother's methadone use was part of it.

It's worth noting there are methadone treatment centers in New York that specifically provide care to pregnant women.

Those who have undergone this treatment and are now enduring an ACS investigation should contact an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible.

Our Brooklyn ACS defense attorneys can be reached at (718) 864-2011.

Additional Resources:

Case Tests Whether Methadone Treatment During Pregnancy is Abuse, Sept. 10, 2014, By Michael Booth, New Jersey Law Journal

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Court: Parents Must be Afforded Due Process in Termination of Rights Hearing

The termination of one's parental rights is not something family courts should take lightly. It's a life-altering and family-altering court action with certain finality which should only be sought as a last resort.

In the course of these proceedings, our Bronx ACS lawyers know that due process must be afforded to parents. It's not the only factor the court must weigh - the welfare of the child trumps all - but it is an important one. The best interests of the children are not served when the parent is denied ample opportunity to present his or her case, which in turn deprives the court of the chance to fully weigh the credibility of all involved.

These due process rights include the right to be properly informed, the right to secure adequate legal representation and the right to be present at hearings. Of course, these rights aren't absolute, and may ultimately be outweighed by other elements. However, given the profound impact these rulings can have on a family, these matters must be appropriately considered.

The denial of parental due process rights was at issue in the recent Indiana Supreme Court family law case of In re: Involuntary Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of K.W. and C.C. This case involves a mother who was incarcerated for a short stint while the termination of her parental rights regarding her toddler son was pending.

The child in this case was born in August 2011. The following month, the boy was identified by state child services workers as being a child in need after his father and mother were  both repeatedly arrested, tested positive for drugs and failed to seek required treatment. Following several continuances, a hearing for final termination of parental rights was set for April 2013.

On the day of that hearing, the mother was in jail. Her attorney indicated she would likely be released from incarceration within two weeks, and requested another continuance. That request was objected to by attorneys for children's services, as well as by the guardian ad litem appointed to represent the child's interests. The court denied the request, and the hearing was held without the mother present.

The mother appealed, arguing a violation of her due process and also ineffective assistance of counsel, as her attorney failed to present an alternative option to have her transported from jail or to testify by phone. The appellate court affirmed the trial court, indicating the evidence supporting termination was "overwhelming."

However, the state supreme court reversed, finding the mother's due process rights were violated. When weighed against other factors in the case, there was little reason the court couldn't have delayed the proceeding until after the mother was released or, at minimum, have allowed her to be present via telephone.

The court noted the precedent set forth in such matters, instructing the court to weigh parental due process rights in custody cases involving an incarcerated parent against:

  • The delay resulting from parental attendance and the time so far elapsed;
  • The need for early determination of the matter;
  • The best interests of the children in having the parent physically attend;
  • The reasonable availability of the testimony through other means;
  • The cost and inconvenience of transport and that to other witnesses;
  • The probable success of his or her arguments on its merits.

Here, a delay to continue the proceedings two weeks would not have resulted in significant inconvenience or cost to those involved. Not only would such a continuance be in line with shielding the due process rights of the parent, it would have served the child's best interests to ensure a fair and legally sound proceeding not subject to further legal challenge.

If you are battling ACS in the Bronx or Brooklyn, call our offices at (718) 864-2011.

Additional Resources:

In re: Involuntary Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of K.W. and C.C. , July 10, 2014, Indiana Supreme Court

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