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TV host loses New York child custody dispute

Child custody issues can be challenging but focus on achieving what is in the best interests of the children. Television host Bill O'Reilly recently lost an appeal in New York for sole decision-making authority over his children. O'Reilly was denied sole decision-making authority over his 16-year old daughter and 12-year son that he shares with his ex-wife. In reaching its decision, the New York appeals court recognized there was a basis for determining that it is in the children's best interest for the children's mother to retain primary residential custody of the children. A parenting coordinator was also assigned to help the pair resolve disputes concerning decisions related to the children.

The two children had stated a clear preference for remaining with their mother and the court determined that given the age and maturity of the children, and the home environment provided by the mother, that remaining with her was in the best interests of the children. O'Reilly retained visitation rights for the two children. O'Reilly and his ex-wife will share joint decision-making authority over the children. The court found that there was evidence that if either parent was awarded sole-decision making authority over the children, they may use it to exclude the other parent from meaningful participation in the lives of the children.

In New York, there are two types of child custody including physical custody and legal custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions for the children oftentimes related to education, religion or medical care. Physical custody refers to who the children live with. It is possible to have shared physical custody, however, it is common for one parent to have primary physical custody of the children and for the other parent to enjoy visitation rights. Both types of custody can be sole or joint. The court follows a best interests of the children standard and considers a variety of factors, including the preferences of the children depending on their ages, when determining what is in the best interests of the children and awarding custody.

Child custody issues can sometimes be heated and emotional. The family law process, however, seeks to help families achieve what is in the best interests of the children which is why it is helpful for parents to be aware of the resources available to them through the family law process.

Source: New York Daily News, "Bill O'Reilly loses custody battle with ex-wife over their two kids," Stephen Rex Brown, Feb. 29, 2016

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