Parents who are immigrants in the United States often face considerable uncertainties, especially when they have to face the legal system. This doesn’t always mean having to face criminal charges. Some people who immigrated here may have to deal with child custody matters.
One of the first things that an immigrant may wonder is whether they’ll have a legal chance to remain in their child’s life after the custody matter is decided. The good news is that the court in a child custody case is more concerned with what’s best for the child than it is with immigration status.
Citizens aren’t automatically favored
It shocks some people that American citizens aren’t automatically favored in child custody matters. While you need to take steps to protect your right as a parent, you aren’t likely lose your children just because your ex, who happens to be a citizen, is asserting their desire to get custody of the children.
Points the court considers
All child custody matters are handled by state law. In New York, there is legal and physical custody of the child. Legal custody provides decision-making powers. Physical or residential custody is which parent the child lives with. Both custody types can be split evenly between the parents, or one parent might have sole custody.
The court will consider various factors to determine what’s in the child’s best interests. Some that are considered include:
- Parenting skill strengths and weaknesses
- Caregiving and nurturing of the child
- Physical and mental health of the parents
- Wishes for the child, in some instances
- Child care plans and work schedules of the parents
- Ability of parents to work together and encourage the child’s family relationships
- Presence of any domestic violence
- Relationships with siblings and other household members
There are other things the court might consider. Typically, finances aren’t thought of either, but the parents must be able to provide for the child adequately.
Anyone going through a child custody issue should ensure they have someone on their side who can do what’s best for the children. When the matter intersects with immigration issues, having someone who understands both areas is beneficial.