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Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody in New York

When unmarried parents split up, or when married parents divorce, child custody orders will need to be put in place. Custody orders determine one or both parents’ responsibility to care for their children, or they give this responsibility to someone else, such as an older sibling, a grandparent, or an aunt or uncle.

In New York, child custody is split into legal custody and physical custody. A family court in New York can only issue a child custody order until the child becomes a legal adult, which is 18-years-old.

The family courts do not give preference to mothers like they did in the past. Instead, they issue decisions that are in the best interests of the child, meaning, a mother or father may be awarded custody when they cannot agree.

Legal Custody in New York

“Legal custody” refers to a parent’s legal right to make important decisions about their son or daughter, such as where the child will attend school, what medical care the child will receive, where the child lives, and what religion the child is brought up in.

If the judge decides to give both parents legal custody, it means they both have the right to make major decisions about their child together. It doesn’t matter if the child lives with one parent the majority of the time – both parents still have to make major decisions about the child as a team.

Physical Custody in New York

In New York, physical custody is also called residential custody. Physical custody refers to being responsible for a child’s supervision and physical care. When a judge awards joint physical custody, it means the child spends equal time living with each parent.

If the judge awards sole physical custody to a parent, it means the child will live with that parent more than 50% of the time. The parent with sole physical custody is called the “custodial parent” and the other parent is the “noncustodial parent,” and he or she receives visitation and pays child support.

Next: Fighting for Custody? Beware of Moving Out!

If you need help with a child custody matter on Long Island, contact Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C. for a free consultation.