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What is Joint Custody in New York?

One of the most important determinations made when two people seek a legal separation or divorce regards custody of any children under the age of eighteen.  Divorcing your spouse should not affect your rights as a parent, says your Westchester divorce lawyers. If you believe you may be facing questions of custody in your divorce, contact a legal professional today.  

There are two different parts to custody determinations: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the time actually spent with the child and where the child will live. Legal custody assigns the responsibility and right to make decisions regarding the child’s life, whether or not the child lives with you. Thus, it is possible to have legal custody even if you do not physically live with the child. In that type of arrangement, the parent with physical custody would have to consult with you on any major decisions for the child, such as education or heath care treatments.   

Family courts in New York favor joint custody situations whenever possible. This means both parents will be expected to work together to cooperate on making major decisions for the child. No longer do courts automatically favor the mother over the father for custody arrangements, but instead try to decide what would be in the best interest of the child.  A Westchester divorce lawyer can help you demonstrate that a continued relationship with you is in the best interest of your child.  In order to decide whether joint custody would be in the child’s best interest, the court looks at many different factors.  These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • The mental and physical health of each parent.
  • The physical and emotional needs of the child and each parent’s ability to fulfill those needs, including any special needs.
  • The child’s existing relationship with each parent, including nurturing and caretaking parental roles up until this point.
  • The child’s relationship with any existing brothers, sisters, or other family members and the need to continue those relationships.
  • The physical proximity of the parents’ homes compared to the child’s school, church, or other community members.
  • The ability of each parent to care for the child with their work schedules and habits.
  • The willingness of each parent to encourage and facilitate a relationship with the other parent, as long as that continued relationship is in the child’s best interest.
  • Any history of domestic abuse or violence on the part of either parent toward any member of the household.
  • If the court believes the child is old and mature enough to understand the nature of the situation, it will ask the child what he or she wants.

Overall, there is no cut and dry rule for custody determinations in New York, though as previously mentioned, courts prefer joint custody arrangements to encourage continued relationships with both parents and to protect each parent’s parental rights and responsibilities. If you believe you may be facing a divorce, a Westchester divorce lawyer at Lynch Schwab PLLC will work to help preserve your rights and your relationship with your child.

Posted on November 27, 2013 in Divorce Attorneys