New York Attorney Advocates For Fathers' Right

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Elliot Schlissel, a New York fathers' rights attorney who has been practicing law for over 30 years and represents clients in the metropolitan New York area and Long Island's Nassau and Suffolk counties, is an aggressive fathers' rights advocate. He explained how he advocates for New York fathers in matters of custody, visitation and why a father's presence is important in his childrens' lives:

What do you do as an attorney to advocate for fathers' rights?

To start with, we take a very, very aggressive presentation. Very often, fathers just want visitation with their child and they're being prevented from it. We recommend to fathers that they seek custody, that we give the judge an alternative if the mother doesn’t cooperate and take custody away from her.

We advocate very zealously on the father's behalf before the courts and we go beyond the traditional legal methods used by some other attorneys in presenting the father's situation, both in the courts and in certain self-help situations.

What is the typical visitation awarded in New York divorce lawsuits?

Schlissel and other New York support and custody attorneys say that it's better to refer to visitation as co-parenting time as the concept of visitation creates an attitude of a superior parent and an inferior parent. Schlissel says it's particularly important to try and eliminate the concept of a custodial parent and a non-custodial parent and to look for joint custody and co-parenting time instead. He explained what seeks for a father's co-parenting time:

The minimum we look for is every other weekend, one or two days' visitation during the week, unlimited telephone communication, access to school records, hospital records, medical records and a notice of all school events, social and sporting events involving the child.

We also look at every other holiday besides every other weekend. We look for half of the summer if the father can spend that much time. We look for access on Christmas, Easter, spring vacation, Father's Day and the child's birthdays. We basically want the father to be involved in the child's life and believe that the child's life is enhanced by having a father who loves and cares for his child. Sociologists and psychologists have said that having a male influence in a child's life is a good thing.

Is this issue handled differently on Long Island versus Manhattan?

I think fathers get about the same deal no matter whether you're in Manhattan or Long Island. I think the attitudes are similar, although not necessarily the same. Some courts are a little more difficult for fathers to deal with, but I think they run into similar problems in courts throughout the metropolitan New York area.

We handle cases in the five boroughs in the city of New York as well as in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties in our office, so we have a good-size staff and we have five attorneys in the office doing this type of work.

Are there general biases against fathers?

There's not a bias in every case. Certainly there are many hardworking, diligent and very fair judges, but there is a general bias within the system. I've experienced it during my 34 years of practicing law within the system and can tell you this – fathers need advocates. New York fathers need someone to speak up for them.

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