Court is Like a Box of Chocolates

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Court is Like a Box of Chocolates

Court Is Like a Box of Chocolates by Deborah E. KaminetzkyWhat is an “attorney for the child” and what does it mean for my case?

Often when parents who are divorcing are already in court and do not agree on custody, the court will assign an “attorney for the child.” This is an attorney who will interview both parents and the child or children. The attorney for the child will ask the child what their position is, and if the child is seven years of age or older, they will advocate that child’s position to the court.

Should the parents be low income, the attorney for the child will be assigned at no cost to them; however, should the parents be able to pay, they will have to pay the attorney for the child proportionately according to their respective incomes. Keep in mind that, despite the parents paying for the attorney, there is no control by the parents over the attorney for the child. He or she is free to advocate the child’s position regardless of whether that is what the parents wish. Needless to say, it also makes the litigation cost more.

Generally speaking, the courts will consider the “best interests of the child” in the “totality of the circumstance.” The court will make a determination as to which parent should have custody and a visitation schedule for the noncustodial parent. Unless visitation to the noncustodial parent is harmful to the child, the court will normally rule that visitation should be granted.

In a recent case that was decided in April of 2017, an attorney for the child advocated that the children should be able to make their own visitation schedule with their mother. The court granted it with respect to the seventeen-year-old, but not the twelve-year-old. The court’s reasoning was that the seventeen-year-old “had demonstrated sufficient maturity to determine when and how often he wished to visit” his mother. The court determined that the twelve-year-old was not mature enough to decide when and where to visit with his mother, as he had already shown a propensity to want to be with friends rather than seeing his mother.

When advising our clients, we encourage them to either mediate or try to negotiate and reach a settlement with the other parent, not just to save money (although that is a consideration), but also because, when you allow an attorney to advocate for your child and a judge to make a determination, both parents are not in control of the outcome and may not be satisfied with the decision. In other words, you never know what you’re going to get.

Deborah E. Kaminetzky


Deborah E. Kaminetzky, Esq.
Kaminetzky Law & Mediation, P.C.
132 Spruce Street
Cedarhurst, New York 11516
Phone: 516.374.0074

By | 2019-05-18T08:44:32+00:00 May 4th, 2017|Divorce Law, Mediation|Comments Off on Court is Like a Box of Chocolates

About the Author:

Deborah E. Kaminetzky
Deborah E. Kaminetzky is the founder of Kaminetzky Law & Mediation, P.C. located in Long Beach, New York. Prior to starting the firm Deborah worked at a Long Island firm where she learned the practice of Matrimonial and Family law and Estate Planning. Deborah has also worked at the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs where she was responsible for prosecuting unlicensed home improvement contractors and negotiating settlements for consumers. Prior to practicing law, Ms. Kaminetzky was the president of a commercial property management corporation in the New York Metro area. Ms. Kaminetzky is a member of the National Association of Divorce Professionals, New York State Council on Divorce Mediation, Family and Divorce Mediation Council of Greater New York, New York State Bar Association (Business Law, Estate, Family Law, ADR and General Practice Sections), Nassau County Bar Association (where she serves as Chair of the General, Solo and Practice Management Committee and The Nassau County Women’s Bar Association. Ms. Kaminetzky was appointed to the Committee on Law Practice Management of the New York State Bar Association in 2015 and has been a frequent speaker and author of articles for their journal. Ms. Kaminetzky serves on the Board of Directors of the Yashar Attorney and Judges Chapter of Hadassah as a their Treasurer, and was their Woman of the Year 2012 and Leadership award honoree in 2019. Deborah graduated from New York Law School in 1991 and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1986. Ms. Kaminetzky was admitted to the First Department in 1991 and the United States Supreme Court Bar in February of 2015. Deborah is on the Matrimonial fee dispute arbitration panel for Nassau County. She expanded her alternative dispute resolution practice by completing a Mediation certificate program in December of 2013, an advanced Mediation certificate program in 2015 and most recently a Divorce Mediation certificate in early 2016 from The New York Peace Institute. Ms. Kaminetzky has spoken to various groups on topics including matrimonial law, technology and social media use, and disaster preparedness for business including cybersecurity.