When they make the difficult decision to divorce, the concerns of many parents fall to the custody and care of their children. In order to ensure the best possible arrangement for their kids, it is important for New York parents to understand the types of custody in the state, as well as the factors that go into custody and visitation determinations.
According to the New York Courts, having legal custody grants parents the right to make important decisions about their children’s upbringing and care, including decisions about their education, religious instruction and medical treatments. Judges may grant sole legal custody to one parent, affording him or her this right, or they may order joint legal custody, in which parents share in making these important decisions. Physical custody, or residential custody, refers to the responsibility for a child’s physical supervision and care. Children may share time with both parents when they are awarded joint physical custody, or they may reside with one parent and have visitation with the other in sole custody situations. When deciding child custody cases, courts make decisions regarding legal and physical custody.
In making child custody determinations, the child’s health and safety are the courts’ primary concerns. According to the New York Courts, judges consider numerous factors when awarding custody and visitation to determine what is in the best interests of the child. These factors include the following:
- The child’s primary caregiver or nurturer
- Each parent’s parenting skills and ability to provide for any special needs their children have
- The child’s relationships with any siblings and other members of the family
- Each parent’s physical and mental health
- Each parent’s employment schedules and childcare plans
To ensure their decisions are what is best for the child, family law courts may also take into account the willingness and ability of each parent to cooperate with each other and encourage ongoing parent-child relationships between their former partners and their kids. Histories of domestic violence in the family are also taken into consideration. Additionally, the court may consider the child’s preference in some cases, depending on his or her age.