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CHILD CUSTODY FAQ - Discussed by New York City Family Lawyer    August 17, 2013, 9:29 am

 FAQ: Child Custody

Children are the main concern in a divorce. This child's financial needs as well as their emotional and physical well-being must be considered by the court prior to an order being made. The issue of child custody raises a lot of questions, questions which we will now be answered by our own New York family lawyer. 

What is the difference between legal and physical custody?

The term 'physical custody' refers to where a child resides and who has responsibilities associated with daily childcare. The term 'legal custody' is the decision-making responsibilities associated with the education, healthcare and religious upbringing of a child. Our New York family attorney advises those facing a custody battle to understand the difference as it will allow them to understand their role and thus, fulfill it.


When parents fight over custody, how does the court decide?

Our New York child custody attorney says that the courts will always focus on the best interests of the child. Each state has certain guidelines, but the courts will usually take into consideration what each parent wants, what the child wants (depending on the age/maturity of the child), which parent has been the primary caretaker, the parenting abilities of each parent and whether either/both have a history of abuse.


What if the custody arrangements aren't working out?

Our New York child custody lawyer advises - “if you are not happy with your custody agreement, you should investigate the law of modification in your area as it differs depending on the State” She also notes that it is not always easy to modify a custody arrangement that has been ordered by the court.  The agreement itself may set out methods by which it can be changed. It is typically more difficult to change the custody arrangements than it is to set them in the first place; there must have been a substantial change in the circumstances for the court to act. An experienced New York family attorney can advise you on your rights in your state.


Is joint custody better?

In relation to custody, no solution is right for everybody. Our New York child custody lawyer claims that - “most children of divorced parents will benefit from the ongoing involvement of both parents but if a joint custody agreement causes more hassle than good, you should try to find a solution that suits all”.

Joint custody will not work if the parents are not living in the same area or if the parents cannot work together. Family circumstances like domestic violence, physical or sexual abuse, alcohol or drug dependency and neglect also affect the court's determination.


I want to move to another state with my child. Can I do that?

This is another custody issue that will vary from state to state. Our New York child custody attorney states that in most cases the court will weigh the reason for the move; it’s probable effect on the child; whether you have sole or joint custody; if the child's other parent has objected to the move; and how often the other parent will be able to see the child.