Before a court may review your claim for child custody they must obtain jurisdiction over the case. Jurisdiction is the court’s authority to listen to and have authority over the case before them. Generally, the New York Family Court will have jurisdiction over the case if the child lived in New York for the past six months or has a significant connection to the state. If the child has not lived in the state for the last six months, then the court may refuse to hear your petition and request that you seek custody in the court of the state where the child current resides.

In New York one parent is not favored over another. Instead the court will look to see who the child’s “primary caretaker” is. In the court’s eyes a primary caretaker is the parent who takes care of the child’s basic needs the most and the parent that the child feels the most comfortable with. Generally, the primary caretaker is awarded physical custody of the child because most likely the child already resides with that parent. However, this is not an automatic ruling especially if it is shown that it is in the best interest of the child to reside with the other parent. To decide the best interest of the child the court will review each of the parents’ lives and the type of home, which they would be able to best provide for the child. This includes seeing who else resides at the parent’s home, whether the parent drinks or does drugs, whether the child would be separated from their siblings or close family members, and the amount of time each of the parents would be able to spend with the child. Additionally, if there are any allegations of threats, criminal history, or domestic violence that will also weigh heavy in the court’s eyes.

Jayson Lutzky has been a practicing New York attorney for over 29 years. He is experienced in getting the best results for his clients who are facing family law issues such as divorces, child custody, and child support issues. If you are facing a family law issue, then contact our law office or visit our website at for a free initial in person consultation or call 1-800-660-LAWYER / 1-800-660-5299.