When it comes to child custody cases in New York City, the courts are tasked with making complex decisions about emotionally charged situations. Complicating matters is the fact that there are multiple forms of custody with each type bringing its own set of consequences to the family in question. By learning more about those kinds of custody, you can better prepare yourself for a custody battle that may or may not grant you the type of situation you’re seeking.
Legal Custody Versus Physical Custody
There are two primary types of custody under New York law: physical and legal. In legal custody, the responsibility for making decisions about the child’s care is granted to one or both parents. Those with legal custody are the only persons authorized to make decisions about the child’s education, medical care, and religious upbringing. In most cases, the court will give both parents legal custody, except where one parent has exhibited risky behavior that may seem irresponsible or dangerous.
When both parents share legal custody, they must work together to arrive at a final determination for each issue that arises. This means the parents must be able to work together for the sake of the child. If the parents can’t set their differences aside to make these decisions, they may end up back in court to have legal custody reassessed. While both parents may still retain legal custody to a degree, the judge may grant veto power to one parent over the other.
Physical custody determines where the child resides. One parent may have full custody, or the parents may have to share custody. While the needs and general welfare of the child is the court’s primary concern, there’s also an effort to keep the family together as much as possible. For that reason, establishing shared, or joint, custody is the preferred solution.
In attempting to set up a situation of shared custody, the parents must again prove that they can communicate civilly for the sake of the child. They must maintain agreed upon custody rotations without unnecessary delays, so the child’s life will be uprooted as rarely as possible. If the parents find the situation is not working, they may have to return to court with their family court lawyers to have custody issues reassessed.
Joint and Sole Custody in NYC Family Law
In cases where one parent proves unsuitable as a parent, the other parent or another suitable guardian will be granted sole custody. There are a number of reasons that a parent may be denied legal and/or physical custody of their child. The individual may have exhibited risky behavior, such as drug abuse or multiple DUI arrests, or the parent may have a record of violent outbursts. If he or she has been in frequent bar fights or has been charged with domestic abuse, these factors may prohibit the court from granting custody.
In cases where a parent has been denied custody, an experienced family law attorney may be able to convince a judge to grant parenting time, also known as visitation rights. This is a weekly visitation that allows the parent and child to spend time together. Parenting time can either be supervised or unsupervised, but, in either case, the parent is required to abide by court-ordered stipulations. For instance, the parent will likely have to have the child returned to the custodial parent at a predetermined time.
Joint custody, on the other hand, gives each parent equal time parenting the child, which may involve raising the child on a day to day basis. Typically, the custody of the child will be divided up by days of the week with parents alternating weekends and vacation time. While each parent has custody of the child, he or she will be responsible for making sure the child goes to school, is treated for medical conditions, and has his or her basic needs met.
Due to the requirements of parenthood, the court will look at each parent’s financial situation, before agreeing to grant joint custody. The parents must each be able to provide a quality standard of living for the child and be mentally capable of making decisions related to the child’s welfare. Additionally, the parents must each be reasonably available to the child, so parents’ work schedules will also play a factor in the court’s decision.
Custody arrangements are never simple and require the courts in New York City to look at complicated issues. For that reason, parents should seek out their own legal advocates, experienced professionals who are educated in family law. This will help to make sure everyone’s rights are protected and the child receives the possible care.
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