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Determining Child Custody in New York Divorces

Understanding how New York courts decide child custody cases can help you achieve your goals in your divorce.
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    December 07, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- One of the biggest decisions that must be made during a New York divorce is who will get custody of the couple's children. In some cases, custody may be granted to only one parent, while in others, both parents will share in the parenting duties.

New York law recognizes two different types of child custody: legal and physical. Legal custody refers to the ability to make important decisions about the child's upbringing, including schooling, medical treatment and religious training. Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to where the child will live and the ability to make decisions about the child's day-to-day life.

In sole custody situations, only one parent has legal custody. The child will live with that parent full time, but the other parent may have visitation or parenting time. In joint custody situations, both parents share legal custody and the child spends time living with each parent.

After a divorce, children can benefit significantly from maintaining strong and healthy relationships with both parents. As a result, joint custody tends to be the preferred arrangement in New York child custody cases. However, sole custody is sometimes ordered if one parent doesn't want to care for the child or has a problem -- for example, a history of addiction or abuse -- that might make them unfit to parent. Sole custody is also sometimes awarded in cases where one parent wishes to move to another state or country.

How are child custody cases decided?

There is no gender presumption in New York child custody law. As such, both the mother and the father start child custody cases on equal footing.

When deciding child custody cases, New York courts will work to protect the best interests of the child. In doing so, courts will use the following factors to help in reaching a decision:
- Whether one parent has historically been responsible for most of the child care
- Each parent's ability to raise the child and provide for any special needs
- Each parent's mental and physical wellness
- Any family history of domestic abuse
- Each parent's ability to coordinate work and child care
- The child's relationships with his or her siblings and other family members
- The child's preferences, if the child is of sufficient maturity
- The ability of the parents to cooperate with each other and maintain family connections

In many cases, parents are encouraged to use mediation to resolve child custody issues. It mediation, the parents work with a specially trained neutral moderator who helps them reach a mutually-agreeable solution. If mediation is unsuccessful -- or if parents choose not to pursue it -- child custody disputes will be resolved through trial.

If you are involved in a child custody dispute in New York, it is helpful to be proactive in discussing your case with an experienced family law attorney. The attorney will be able to review the pros and cons in your case to help you achieve your goal.

Article provided by Jonathan D. Katz
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