When family courts determine legal and physical custody and visitation rights, they consider several factors, such as the child-parent relationship and the mental and physical condition of the parents. Courts also look at the family's history and check if there has been domestic violence, abuse or neglect.
The law protects children's physical, mental and psychological well-being and any harm to these will likely prompt the court to award custody to the other parent or other relatives if both parents are guilty of the same.
Evidence of neglect
For the courts to consider neglect as one of the factors, it must be proven through any of the following:
- The physical conditions and behaviors of the child and their parents
- Inspection of the home
- Medical records of the child's injuries or illnesses
- Criminal history, substance abuse or any record of misconduct of a parent
- Statements from the child, parents and possible witnesses
Other proof may be available depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding the family's life.
Like in most states, New York courts decide on each custody case with the child's best interest as their primary consideration. In rare cases, courts may award custody to the neglectful parent if current circumstances show improvement and that putting the child under their care will be the best for the child's well-being.
Anyone who actually and personally knows of the neglect or risk of neglect, if not already apparent, should bring the issue forward to the court to ensure the child's protection and best care.