The divorce process can be a difficult time for both spouses, particularly when it comes time to decide what happens to the kids. In New York, courts will determine both legal and physical custody based on the best interests of the child.
Legal custody v. physical custody
Determining custody is more than just choosing which parent the child will live with. Parents may have sole or joint physical custody, legal custody, or both.
Legal custody refers to the power to make major decisions regarding the child. In other words, if parents share legal custody, they will both have an equal say in making decisions regarding schooling and extracurriculars, medical care, religion, and other important areas of the child’s life. If sole custody is granted, only one parent will be able to make these decisions without the other parent’s input.
Physical custody refers to the child’s living arrangements. If one parent is the sole primary custodian, the child will live with them full-time, while the other parent is granted visitation on weekends or holidays. If both parents share physical custody, the child will have two primary residences. However, this does not necessarily mean the child will spend an equal number of days in each residence and switch homes on a daily or even weekly basis. There are a number of potential options for scheduling, and the court will consider the best interests of the child before making a final decision.
Factors to determine best interest of the child
Courts will consider the best interest of the child standard when deciding both legal and physical custody. Some of the factors courts use to determine best interest of the child include:
- Parental relationships with the child prior to the divorce
- Each parent’s willingness and ability to care for the child
- Mental and physical health of both parents
- History of domestic violence
- Parents’ mental/physical health and/or drug/alcohol abuse
Coming up with a child custody agreement that works for you and your child can be challenging. An attorney specializing in matrimonial law can help with the process.
Bashian P.C. can review your case and help you prioritize the needs of your child during this difficult time.