How Custody Is Decided in New York Family Courts


Child custody can be one of the most complicated parts of the divorce process. Both parents typically want to spend as much time with their kids as possible, which is why custody often results in litigation. If parents can’t agree on a child custody arrangement, the court will decide for them.

Custody is separated into legal custody and physical custody. If a parent has legal custody, he or she makes the critical decisions in a child’s life, such as where the child goes to school, religious upbringing, medical care, and so on. Physical custody is when a parent lives with the child. Parents can share both legal and physical custody. If only one parent has both physical and legal custody, he or she is said to have sole custody. However, if parents share legal and physical custody, they are said to have joint custody of the child.

The court will determine who gets legal and physical custody of the child based on the “best interests” of that child. “Best interests” means the situation should be as ideal as possible for the child’s well-being. New York courts will take many factors into consideration when considering what is best for a child, including the following:

  • Each parent’s ability to care for the child
  • Each parent’s mental and physical health
  • History of domestic violence
  • Work schedules
  • Child’s desires
  • Parents’ ability to cooperate with each other

Likewise, New York is one of the few states that allows grandparents and other nonparents to petition for visitation rights. Parents who don’t obtain sole or joint custody of their children are almost always entitled to visitation rights instead.

If you’re concerned about what will happen to your kids after the divorce, let us help. Our skilled Bronx divorce lawyers has more than 10 years of experience practicing family law. Let him take a look at your case and offer recommendations regarding your best course of legal actions.

Contact us at (347) 343-5467 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case evaluation today.

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