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On what basis are child custody decisions made in New York?

When parents in New York are going through a divorce, it can be an emotional time. It is important that they understand the types of custody in New York and the basis for custody decisions in New York, so they can better understand their rights and options.

What is legal versus physical custody?

Legal custody in New York refers to the right to make major life decisions on behalf of the child. Some of these decisions include where the child will receive medical care and what religion the child will be brought up in. Legal custody can be joint, meaning both parents must make these decisions together, even if the child only lives with one of the parents. Legal custody can also be sole, meaning only one parent has the right to make these decisions.

Physical custody, on the other hand, is where the child lives on a day-to-day basis. It is also referred to as residential custody. Physical custody can be joint, meaning the child will spend an equal amount of time in each parent’s care. Physical custody can also be sole when the child lives with one parent more than 50% of the time. If so, the noncustodial parent generally has visitation periods with the child.

The “best interests of the child”

Both legal and physical custody decisions will be based on the best interests of the child. Courts will consider several factors when determining what the best interests of the child are with regards to child custody. Courts may consider which parent has been the child’s main caregiver and each parent’s parenting skills. Courts may also consider each parent’s health and whether domestic violence is an issue. Each parent’s work schedule and childcare arrangements may also be considered. The child’s relationship with siblings and the child’s wishes may also be considered. Each parent’s ability and willingness to cooperate with one another and encourage the child to have a safe, meaningful relationship with one another may also be considered.

Understand your options regarding child custody

It is natural for parents to want to be with their child post-divorce, but ultimately any child custody decisions made need to be in the child’s best interests. This is true whether it is physical custody being decided on or legal custody. Parents in New York who have questions about child custody and the best interests of the child standard can seek legal advice from an attorney, which this post does not provide.

 

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