Mothers' Rights

Syracuse Mothers’ Rights Lawyer

Determined child custody representation for mothers during divorce

Often the greatest concern a woman has during divorce is the impact on her relationship with her children. Dissolving your marriage will change your child’s family structure but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise your parental rights. At Bombardo Law Office, P.C., I understand how important your children are to you and I will assert your rights in child custody negotiation and litigation. Drawing on decades of experience in contested divorces, I protect my clients’ parental rights and work tirelessly for the custody order a loving parent deserves.

What rights do you have as a mother?

Parental rights in New York are gender neutral. As a child’s parent you have the right to seek:

  • Legal custody — This is the right to make decisions affecting your child’s health, welfare, education and other important matters.
  • Physical custody — This is the right to have your child live with you, which comes with the responsibility to provide for their physical needs. Parents with physical custody must provide a safe, healthy residence, clothing, food and other necessities of life.

Unfortunately, when parents divorce, their rights may conflict with one another. Obtaining a child custody order that both parents find acceptable can be complicated.

How to win custody cases

In the past, courts were deferential to mothers having physical custody, especially for children of tender years. The conventional wisdom was that young children needed mothers more than fathers. The law has changed but some judges still adhere to the tender-years perspective.

Today, court decide child custody cases based on what is considered to be in the best interests of the child. The rights of the parents, therefore, are subordinated to the child’s interests. Judges look at the totality of the circumstances and decide on a parenting plan that serves the child’s needs.

If both parents are fit, judges favor a shared custody arrangement. If you want sole custody of your child, you will have to show that the other parent is unfit and that living with that parent would be contrary to the child's best interests. Evidence of substance abuse, physical or sexual abuse and domestic violence can prompt a court to restrict or prohibit contact with the child.

What does it mean to be a 'primary caregiver'?

One major factor in deciding physical custody is the parent’s capacity to act as a primary caretaker. This refers to the person most responsible for the child’s nurturing, which includes preparing meals, washing clothes, bathing the child and seeing to the child’s sleep schedule. With older children, a primary caregiver performs additional tasks, such as picking up kids from school, making and attending doctor’s appointments, arranging play dates and activities, reviewing homework and managing the child’s schedule. For the purposes of stability, courts usually prefer to allow the primary caregiver to continue in that role after a divorce, which means granting physical custody to that parent.

How the law treats unmarried parents

Unwed mothers have sole child custody rights and responsibilities. The mother can decide who sees the child and make decisions affecting the child’s health, welfare and education. A father who is not married to the child’s mother has no rights or responsibilities unless and until there is a determination of paternity. This means that if the mother wants child support payments or the claimed father wants custody or visitation rights, steps must be taken to establish that the man is in fact the biological father of the child. The legal process to determine paternity can be voluntary if both parents agree and they sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form. The process is adversarial if one parent wants a determination but the other resists. Either the mother or the claimed father can initiate paternity proceedings.

Contact a Syracuse divorce attorney who is committed to mothers’ rights

Bombardo Law Office, P.C. in Syracuse represents mothers in Central New York in divorce and child custody disputes. Please call 315-800-4002 or contact me online to schedule a meeting to discuss your legal options.

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