GUIDING FAMILIES THROUGH UNCHARTERED AND CHALLENGING LEGAL ISSUES
Veronica started her legal career working as attorney representing the city’s child welfare agency and additionally practiced family law and it is here where she honed her skills as a litigator.
She still dedicates a smaller portion of her practice to continuing her work in this vital practice area.
The family is truly the cornerstone of our society and it is where all our learning begins. Sadly, situations arise where legal intervention may become necessary and the private becomes public. Family Court deals with a myriad of complex and sensitive issues revolving around families and the welfare and future of our children, from custody and visitation, guardianship of a minor, family offenses (orders of protection)
It can be an emotional, stressful and even uncertain time. The Law Offices of Veronica Escobar can provide assertive, yet professional representation during these difficult times, as she has guided many families through the Court as they learn to balance their personal lives with litigation in a public forum.
CUSTODY AND VISITATION
Custody and visitation matters are heard in either Supreme Court or Family Court. They involve parents of minor children who, with existing court orders in place, disagree or in a dispute regarding decision making, parenting time or the residency of the child. At other times a parent may assert that court orders are being violated and this impinges on their relationship with the child.
In other instances, one or both parents is attempting to establish legal and physical custody of their child (or children) for the first time after a separation or divorce.
In New York State, joint legal custody of children is possible if both parents agree to it. A Court of law cannot impose it on the parents. If there is no agreement to joint legal custody, one parent is to be the legal and physical custodian of the children. The latter can be mutually agreed upon by the parents or by a Judge or Referee if the matter goes to a trial/hearing.
There are times when a relative or a family friend may petition for custody of a child, however there is a higher standard to be met in these cases. The relative must demonstrate standing (the legal ability) to pursue the Court matter and that the biological parent or parents pose a physical, psychological or emotional danger to their child (also known as “extraordinary circumstances”). If this is found, then the Court must determine if awarding custody to the parent or a non-parent is in the child’s “best interest.”
GUARDIANSHIP OF A MINOR
When a non-parent is seeking to care for a child in the place or absence of a parent, a guardianship petition is what needs to be filed in Family Court. A guardian has the same power as a parent to make decisions for a child. The consent of the parent (or parents) is required as is the consent of the child, if over the age of eighteen years old.
A parent or parents may also name a guardian for their children in a last will and testament and only takes effect after death and once approved by a Surrogate Court Judge.
There is also a standby guardianship, that only begins once the parent says it does or at their death and is normally utilized in circumstances where the parent is too ill to care for the child. The guardianship can be of the person (the child) their property or both. This type of guardian can be court appointed or by an executed document.
FAMILY OFFENSES (ORDERS OF PROTECTION)
A family offense petition is commonly referred to as an “order of protection case” in family court. An order of protection can be obtained in Family Court where the parties are either related by blood, marriage, children in common or had a romantic or intimate relationship. The types of behavior that are categorized as family offenses are codified under the state’s criminal law statutes, and include but are not limited to: assault, stalking, harassment, menacing, disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment, and criminal mischief. A parent can also file a family offense petition against another parent on behalf of their minor child or children.