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New York Family Law

New York Family Law

New York Family Law: An Overview

Family law is a topic that can be both emotionally and legally complex. The state of New York has its own unique set of laws and regulations when it comes to issues such as divorce, child custody, and adoption. In this article, we will take a detailed look at New York family law and explore the many facets of this important legal topic.

Divorce in New York

One of the most common family law issues in New York is divorce. The state’s laws on divorce are quite specific and they differ from those of many other states. To file for divorce in New York, one of the parties must have been a resident of the state for at least two years prior to filing. Alternatively, if the spouses were married in New York and one of them is still a resident, the two-year residency requirement does not need to be met.

New York is also unique in that it offers both fault and no-fault divorce options. A no-fault divorce can be filed if the couple has been separated for at least one year and the marriage is irretrievably broken. A fault divorce, on the other hand, can be filed if one spouse can prove that the other is guilty of adultery, cruelty, or abandonment. Fault divorces can be complicated and often involve presenting evidence in court.

In addition to the standard issues of property division and spousal support, New York courts also take into account the concept of equitable distribution when it comes to divorce. Equitable distribution means that the court will divide marital property in a way that is fair, but not necessarily equal. This can result in some assets, such as a family business or a piece of property, being split in a way that is not a 50-50 split.

Child Custody in New York

Another major aspect of New York family law is child custody. When it comes to child custody, New York courts are primarily concerned with the best interests of the child. This means that the court will consider a wide range of factors when determining custody arrangements, including the child’s age, health, and emotional needs, as well as the parents’ ability to provide for the child.

In New York, there are two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as education, religion, and medical care. Physical custody refers to the right to have the child live with one of the parents. In some cases, joint custody may be awarded, in which both parents share legal and physical custody.

New York also has a unique type of custody arrangement known as “parenting time.” Parenting time is a set schedule that outlines when each parent will have time with the child. This schedule can be customized to fit the needs of each family, but it must be approved by the court.

Child Support in New York

Child custody and child support often go hand in hand, and New York has its own laws and regulations when it comes to child support. In general, the non-custodial parent (the parent who does not have primary physical custody of the child) is responsible for paying child support. The amount of child support is calculated based on a number of factors, including the income of each parent, the number of children, and any special needs or expenses of the child.

New York has a strict formula for calculating child support, which takes into account a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income. This percentage increases as the number of children increases, and can also be adjusted based on factors such as the custodial parent’s income, the child’s health or educational needs, and the cost of child care.

Adoption in New York

Finally, we come to the topic of adoption in New York. Adoption can be a wonderful way to expand a family, but it can also be a complex legal process. New York has its own set of laws and regulations when it comes to adoption, which can vary depending on the type of adoption being pursued.

In New York, there are several types of adoption, including agency adoptions, private adoptions, and stepparent adoptions. Each type has its own specific set of rules and procedures, but all adoptions require a thorough evaluation process to ensure that the adoptive parent or parents are capable of providing a loving and stable home for the child.


Family law is a complex and emotional area of law, and New York’s specific laws and regulations only add to the complexity. Whether you are facing a divorce, child custody issues, or are considering adoption, it is important to understand the specific laws and procedures that apply in New York. By working with a skilled attorney who is knowledgeable in New York family law, you can help ensure that your rights are protected and that your family’s best interests are served.

Guide to New York Family Law

Unlike the civil and criminal court systems, which try to decide on a version of facts, family courts look at the best interests of children who are in legally vulnerable positions.  Divorcing parents, adoptive parents, those attempting to establish or deny paternity, and people seeking legal guardianship arrangements in New York may all need to understand NY family law.  This guide will provide you with a basic overview of all of these New York family law issues.  For more in depth information, check out other articles on this website or consult with a New York family attorney.


In order to adopt a child, you will need to go through New York family courts and understand NY family law pertaining to adoption.  New York family law requires that prospective adoptive parents become state certified as adoptive parents, including an extensive home study that includes multiple home visits, interviews, reference checks, and parenting classes.

This part of NY family law helps to ensure that adopted children are adopted into safe, knowledgeable homes that understand how to deal with potential emotional problems or special needs of their adopted child.  Adoptions also require final court approval according to New York family law, even for private adoptions.  Some NY family law attorneys specialize in handling adoption cases.

Divorce and Child Custody

Because divorcing couples often have a difficult time agreeing on parenting arrangements, New York family law mandates that the court system make all child custody determinations.  Parental wishes and the child’s wishes (if the child is old enough to express a reasonable preference) can be taken into account, as can a wide variety of other factors, when the court makes a determination of custody.  Even when parents agree, NY family law requires that a court give final approval to any parenting plan or agreement between divorcing spouses.

Legal Guardianship

Legal guardianship arrangements are allowed by New York family law any time a child’s parent is no longer able to care for them (for instance, due to death, deportation, or incarceration).  It may also be used in some cases for disabled or elderly people who are incapable of making decisions for themselves.  NY family law generally gives parental wishes a great deal of respect when determining who is to be a child’s legal guardian.  There are no age restrictions imposed by New York family law on potential legal guardians, and generally the only criminal convictions that will totally bar a person from becoming a guardian are for crimes against children.


If a father is not married to the mother of his child at the time of the child’s birth, he may need to ask a judge to legally recognize his paternity.  NY family law allows paternity determinations to be made in family courts, and men who are trying to establish paternity—or those who are trying to deny paternity and obtain a court-ordered paternity test—may want to talk to an attorney with a specialization in New York family law and paternity law.