One element that fuels frustration and trepidation during divorce is child custody. Trying to come to terms with not having your children every day may seem too much to bear.
In New York, if the court must determine child custody, it does so with the children's best interests in mind. Ideally, the couple will agree on what kind of legal and physical custody arrangements will work for their family. When it is impossible to reach an amicable resolution, it helps to understand how the courts may rule.
Common custody determinations
In the past, the courts would err on the side of granting custody to mothers. However, in recent years, this practice is not as common. The most common type of custody awarded now is joint legal custody. This arrangement affords both parents an equal say in what goes on in the lives of their children. Both parents would have the right to access their children equally and obtain medical and educational information. In joint custody situations, parents often create a schedule that determines where the children will reside on a rotating basis. The parents may divide physical custody to facilitate healthy relationships between parents and children, which the court often agrees is in the children's best interests.
Factors to consider
The court may forgo a joint arrangement and instead grant custody to only one parent. In this situation, a judge determines one parent is better able to provide for the children's needs. In some sole custody determinations, one parent has a history of abuse or violence. The court considers many factors when deciding what kind of custody situation is best, including:
• The bond between the parents and the children
• The parent who is better suited to facilitate a strong relationship with their co-parent
• The home each parent may provide
• The wishes of older children
• The special needs of the children
When it comes to deciding child custody, agreeing before the assigned court date is a more favorable route. Understanding options may help parents choose to proceed with their children in mind.