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Joint Legal vs. Physical Custody in New York

New York Child Custody Attorney

Custody orders can be confusing. Aside from the legal terms themselves, New York statutes are not crystal clear. In fact, state law does not reference legal or physical custody at all but, instead, refer to custody as a whole. That being said, all New York custody orders broach the of notion sole, joint, legal and physical custody even if the order does not specify those exact terms. If you or someone you know is going through a divorce or is facing a custody battle, contact an experienced New York child custody attorney right away.

Legal Custody Explained

When New York law refers to “joint custody”, in reality, it means joint legal custody. This means that both parents are afforded the right to make decisions on major issues for the child or children. Should a divorce end amicably, it is possible for former spouses to voluntarily agree to joint custody arrangements and a judge will likely endorse it. New York courts are hesitant, however, to force joint legal parenting on divorcing spouses. Should the divorce become contentious, the parents must go before a judge and seek a decision on custody matters. When a family court awards joint legal custody, neither parent can override the other’s decision.

Physical Custody

As discussed, the term “joint custody” only refers to the legal-decision making given to the divorced parents of a child. Aside from legal decision-making, the child must physically live in one of the parent’s homes. Generally, a New York family court will name one of the parents as the custodial (also known as residential or primary) parent, and the other will be the non-custodial parent. Sometimes a court will award “joint physical custody”, although this term may not be used to describe the living arrangement. In such a circumstance, the child shares time at both parents’ homes.

 Custody arrangements are not meant to be permanent. A New York family law judge may order a temporary custody arrangement in an effort to address visitation schedules while a divorce is pending. When the divorce becomes final, the temporary order often transitions into a permanent order – or, conversely, the arrangements may be modified if necessary. Once a court enters its final order, either parent may petition the court to modify it if there is a change in circumstances.

New York Child Custody Attorney

Divorce can be complicated. When child custody issues arise, the divorce can get even more complicated. For this reason, if you or someone you know is facing divorce or child custody issues, contact a knowledgeable New York child custody attorney today learn about your rights and responsibilities under the law. The experienced attorneys at the offices of Alatsas Law Firm have guided clients during this process. Schedule your initial consultation by calling (718)-233-2903 today.