A Brief Guide to Your Custody Options in New York
One of the more complicated and contested parts of the divorce process is often child custody. When this comes up during divorce proceedings, the court follows the overarching principle of doing what is in “the best interest of the child.” The following is an overview of the laws on child custody in New York to help you better understand how the process works.
New York Child Custody Arrangements
New York Law uses a few terms to describe these arrangements. These terms are important for parents to understand:
- Legal custody – the right of a parent to make decisions on the general welfare of a child, such as education, medical care, and religion
- Sole legal custody – the exclusive right to make decisions on the general welfare of the child
- Joint legal custody – a situation in which both parents contribute to the decision making process for the general welfare of the child, provided that the parents have demonstrated their ability to cooperate.
- Residential custody – a parent’s right to receive basic child support to support the primary residence of the child.
- Access time – another term used to describe a child’s time with the parent instead of visitation or custody
How Custody Decisions Are Made
While both parents have legitimate interests in a child custody battle, they come after the interests of the child, which include:
- The child’s wishes (the amount of weight that the court will give to the wishes of the child will depend on the age and maturity of the child)
- Every parent’s parenting ability
- A parent’s history as the primary caretaker for the child
- Any history of domestic abuse
- Any substance abuse history
- Which parent is more likely to foster and facilitate a relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent
- Each parent’s physical and mental health
- A parent’s availability to care for the child (i.e. work schedule)
If parents can agree on a custody arrangement, the court will not need to make a decision for them. On the other hand, if the parents cannot come to an agreement, a custody order will be issued only after a trial or hearing. One important thing to keep in mind is that once there is an agreement, it cannot be undone without new unexpected circumstances or incidents – meaning that you should consult with an attorney before agreeing to anything inside or outside of the courthouse.
Contact a Lawyer
If you are looking for an experienced lawyer to help you with your custody case, call Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht, LLP at (516) 352-2100 for a confidential consultation.