When a married couple with children obtains a divorce, one of the more complicated and contested parts of the divorce process is often child custody. You will need an experienced attorney to handle what often can be a contentious situation. Here is some important information about New York child custody laws.
Child Custody Laws in New York | Types of Child Custody
There are two primary types of child custody in New York: physical custody and legal custody. Physical, or residential custody refers to where a child lives. Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make important decisions about the child’s life. The three major types of decisions that usually fall under legal custody include the child’s health, religious upbringing, and schooling.
Both physical and legal custody can be “sole” or “joint.” Sole legal custody means only one parent can make the major decisions about a child, and joint legal custody means both parents have equal say in making major decisions about the child’s upbringing. Similarly, sole physical custody means the child will spend all or a large majority of the time with one parent (the custodial parent) while the non-custodial parent has visitation rights. Joint physical custody means the child will spend an equal amount of time (or as close to 50/50 as possible) living with each parent.
Child Custody Laws in New York | How the Court Makes Child Custody Decisions
While both parents have legitimate interests in a child custody battle, these come after the child’s interests. What constitutes “best interests” will depend on the particulars of each case. Courts will consider:
- The wishes of the child (the amount of weight the court will give to the child’s wishes will depend on the child’s age).
- Which parent has served as the primary nurturer for the child.
- The parenting ability of each parent.
- Any history of child or domestic abuse.
- Any history of substance abuse.
- How well the parents get along with each other.
- The physical and mental health of each parent.
- Each parent’s work schedule.
Child Custody Laws in New York | Changing a Custody Order
Parents can change a custody order, but only after demonstrating a significant change in circumstances. Courts prefer not to have children go back and forth between parents more than necessary and will only modify its original custody order if it has a really good reason for doing so.
If you have any issues regarding New York child custody laws, please contact our experienced Buffalo child custody lawyers today for a free consultation.