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Child custody refers to who is legally allowed to care for and decide how a child is raised. Child custody is a general term for a more complex issue. In fact, child custody has two parts: legal custody and physical custody.
Physical Child Custody refers to Who Raises a Child
Physical child custody, or residential custody, is the responsibility of actual physical care and supervision of the child. In other words, residential custody is where the child lives. Manhattan does not have one type of physical child custody arrangements, but two types.
Joint physical custody occurs when a child lives with both parents. The child lives with each parent about 50 percent of the year. This arrangement may happen in several ways such as a child lives with their mother four days a week and with their father the other three days. The schedule may alternate with the father having four days a week the next week.
Sole physical custody occurs when one parent has legal custody of their child. The child does not physically reside with the other parent. Instead, the other parent, called the noncustodial parent, receives visitation rights.
Visitation is the act of spending time with a child. This time spent may be a weekend visit the noncustodial parent or a couple of hours. Depending on the situation, the visitation may be supervised or not supervised. Supervised visitation occurs when a person of authority such as a case worker is present while the noncustodial parent spends time with their time. Supervised visitation only occurs if there was some finding of abuse or neglect.
In New York, parents who cannot agree how their child should be raised can seek a child custody order. A child custody order gives the responsibility for a child’s care and upbringing to one or both parents. How the state decides who receives which type of custody, legal or physical, depends on the child’s best interest.
Legal Child Custody refers to Making Decisions on How a Child is Raised
Having physical child custody does not give a parent the right to decide how their child is raised. It only allows their child to reside with them. Legal child custody refers to the legal right to make important decisions about how a child is raised. How a child is raised refers to making decision regarding a child’s medical care or religious upbringing.
Legal child custody is separated into joint and sole custody. Joint legal child custody gives both parents the right to make decisions about their child’s future. Sole legal child custody involves one parent having the legal right to make decisions about child care, medical care and religious upbringing. The other parent who does not have legal child custody cannot not make any decisions.
For instance, a parent with sole legal custody can decide to move to Saratoga from Manhattan. The parent without legal custody would not have a part in the decision.
Manhattan’s Child Custody is Outlined in the State’s Domestic Relations Law Chapter 240
When parents cannot agree on child custody, they can obtain the help of Manhattan family court. The state offers two ways to resolve a child custody dispute: via custody petition or mediation. By filing a child custody petition, you have the right to have your case hear before a judge or court attorney-referee. If you already have a child custody or visitation order from a Manhattan family court, you can seek a modification.
Determining the Best Interest of the Child in a Manhattan Child Custody Case
A mother in a child custody case does not have the upper hand. The court looks at what is in the best interest of the child in determining this issue. The term is used to describe the goal of placing a child in a positive environment. A judge looks at a series of issues such as:
• Which parent is more likely to allow their child to have frequent and continued contact with the other parent
• The emotional ties the child has with each parent
• The moral fitness of each parent
• The mental and physical health of each parent
• Any reasonable preference a child has. A court will typically ask a child who they want to live with if they have the understanding, experience and intelligence to convey the information.
The court will make a parenting time schedule. This is a day-in and day-out schedule for parents to follow regarding physical time with their child. The court will try to take into consideration each parent’s schedule.
Contact a Manhattan Family Attorney Regarding Your Child Custody Issue
In many situations, a family court judge will award joint physical and legal custody. This does not mean it happens all the time. Also, the other parent may try to make accusation to gain the upper hand in court such as abuse to obtain sole custody.
It is important to discuss your situation with a child custody lawyer to have your legal rights heard in court. Once a child custody is made, it is hard to modify it. The court assumes the current child custody order is working properly. The parent requesting the change must show circumstances have changed that makes the current court order not in the best interest of the child.
Whether you are fighting for custody for the first time or trying to obtain a child custody modification seek, seek help of an attorney.