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Types of New York Child Custody Plans

Posted on September 17, 2019

Find a New York City child custody plan your family can live with

Divorce is a stressful situation made more difficult by the prospect of losing time with your children.

New York Family Court judges review several factors of your case to determine the best possibly custody plan that serves your child’s best interests. This leads the judge to make any variety of arrangements, including joint and sole legal and physical custody, as well as temporary custody.

Legal custody

Legal custody of a child refers to the right to make decisions regarding the child’s care, especially involving health, education, religious upbringing and other important decisions. Typically, a judge will award joint legal custody, which means that both parents have an equal say and must agree on the decisions made on behalf of the child.

If a judge is convinced that such agreement is not possible, the ruling may be that sole legal custody is in the child’s best interests. In that case, only one parent has the right to make major decisions for the child. Here, the non-custodial parent may be informed of any issues involving the child, but he or she does not have decision-making power.

In New York State, neither parent is automatically determined to have legal or physical custody. The attorneys and courts look for the right mix of caretaking for each family and child. It is of the utmost importance you retain the counsel of a skilled, strategic New York matrimonial lawyer to protect your rights.

Physical custody

Physical custody or residential custody refers to the physical care of a child and where the child lives and spends time. Joint physical custody means that each parent has 50% custody; in other words, the child spends an equal amount of time with both parents. If one parent is awarded sole physical custody, it means that the child spends more than 50% of his or her time with one parent and he or she is the primary caregiver. The other parent is awarded visitation or what is currently referred to as “parenting time.” If the parent with sole custody wants to relocate far from where the family lived, that parent must either get permission from the court or the other parent resulting in either a court order or a custody modification agreement.

Temporary child custody in New York

During divorce proceedings, a temporary custody order may be in place. As divorces can last anywhere from several months to more than a year depending on the specifics of the case, a parenting or visitation schedule may be established until the divorce agreement is finalized. Temporary emergency custody of a child may be legally granted if a child was abandoned in New York State or there is an emergency issue regarding the safety and protection of the child.

Custody and paternity

If paternity is in question, a father may not have legal rights to his child. This may arise in situations where parents were not married and parties did not sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form. Grandparents by statute may apply for an order of visitation. Siblings and other relatives have no rights in New York to visitation or custody unless extraordinary circumstances exist such as abandonment and parental unfitness. In that case, the relative must also prove such an arrangement is in the child’s best interests.

Modifying a child custody order

Although modifications are possible, New York City child custody agreements are not easily changed. Violations of a custody order can lead to criminal charges, fines, and other negative consequences. There must be a significant change in circumstances to warrant a child custody modification. It is extremely important that you give the first draft your best shot.

Contact us to preserve your parental rights in New York City

The decisions regarding the care of your children should not be left up to chance. Make sure your parenting rights are protected with experienced matrimonial law attorneys on your side. The law offices of Vivien I. Stark, P.C. have over 30 years of experience in divorce and family law in New York City and the surrounding areas. Contact our office online or call (212) 349-1600 today to schedule your initial consultation.