Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody in New York

The prime objective of most parents during divorce is to gain custody of their children. What they usually do not know, however, is that there are different types of custody that can be awarded. In the state of New York, and in many other states, child custody takes two forms: legal and physical.

Legal vs. Physical Custody – What Is the Difference?

Generally speaking, when people hear the term “child custody,” they think of the right to have their child live with them. This is known as physical custody. Conversely, legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make major decisions on behalf of their child regarding their personal welfare, health, safety, religious upbringing, and education. During divorce, separating parents in New York are given the ability to decide the separation of these powers on their own through collaborative means. If a decision cannot be made, however, a judge may step in and issue a decision that is in alignment with the child’s best interests.

Family courts will consider the following factors when deciding physical and legal custody:

  • The child’s age and desires
  • The child’s social and developmental needs
  • The health needs of the child
  • The parents ability to provide care
  • The employment situations of both parents
  • The living situations of siblings

Depending on the circumstances, these powers can be granted to parents either jointly or separately. While many family courts have a strong preference towards joint custody arrangements, situations may arise which result in these powers being set up differently. For example, it is not uncommon for parents to share legal custody but have physical custody be awarded solely to one parent, especially if the parents live a considerable distance apart from one another. In these situations, the non-custodial parent instead gets the right to schedule regular visitation with their kids.

Simplify Your Custody Dispute – Call (845) 605-4330

If you are involved in a custody dispute, your chances of securing a desirable arrangement will largely be dependent on the skill of the attorney you have by your side. At the Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., LLC, our Dutchess County divorce attorneys can provide the customized and effective legal advocacy you need to ensure your rights as a parent are protected.

We proudly serve clients throughout Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, & Ulster Counties. Set up a confidential case review to find out more about what our team of advocates can do for you.

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