Custody is the legal responsibility for the care and control of any child of yours that is under 18.   When the court is deciding on who will gain custody, it looks at many different issues, all looking after the best interest of the child:

  • Which parent has been the primary caregiver or main nurturer of the child
  • Whether there has been domestic violence within the family
  • The parent’s work schedules, parent’s availability, and child care plans of each parent
  • The parenting skills of each parent, their strengths and weaknesses and their ability to provide for the child’s special needs, if any, the mental and physical health of the parents
  • The child’s relationships with siblings, brothers, sisters, and members of the family
  • The child’s wishes or preference depending on the age of the child, maturity of the child, child’s reasons for his/her wishes

Many times, people choose not to get a custody order from a court.  Some people just don’t want the courts involved.  They may have an informal agreement and think if they bring the other parent to court that it will cause unnecessary problems.  If you were married when the child was born or paternity has been established and you decide not to get a custody order, then you and the other parent have equal rights to make decisions about your child.  If you were not married when the child was born, paternity can be established either if the father signed an “acknowledgment of paternity” at the hospital or paternity can be legally established through court.  The only way to legally change the equal right to make decisions about your child held by both parents is for one parent to be granted custody of the child by the court.

There are several different types of custody orders in New York:

Legal Custody
Having legal custody gives a parent the right to make major decisions about their child. Some types of decisions included in the right of legal custody are: where the child goes to school, whether the child gets surgery and what kind of religious training your child receives.

Sole Legal Custody
Having sole legal custody gives a parent the right to make major decisions about the child, while the other parent does not have a say in the matters.

Joint Legal Custody
When joint legal custody is granted, both parents share the same rights and responsibilities to make decisions affecting their child’s life.  This means that both parents have an input in decisions like where the child goes to school, what kind of religious training the child receives and whether the child needs surgery.  Sometimes, however, joint custody can be structured in such a way that each parent has total control over a specific area of the child’s life.  For example, one parent has sole control over medical issues and the other parent has sole control over education issues and religious issues.

Physical Custody
In New York, when physical custody of a child is granted, then a child lives with one parent and not the other.  A parent with primary physical custody is sometimes called a child’s “primary caretaker,” or “custodial parent”. Generally, the custodial parent is the person who has responsibility for the everyday care of the child.

Shared Physical Custody
If judge orders shared physical custody, the child will live with both parents separately, with both parents having frequent contact with the child. The child may or may not spend equal amounts of time with each parent.

When there is shared physical custody, both parents share the rights of making day-to-day decisions about their child and the responsibilities of caring for the child. Some things that parents with joint physical custody will both be responsible for during the time their child is with them include: feeding the child, bathing the child, taking the child to school or doctor’s appointments, and putting the child to bed at night.

Examples of shared physical custody:

  • Child spends weekdays with you, and weekends with the other parent
  • Child spends one month with you and then the month with the other parent

Contact a Long Island Child Custody lawyer today
The Law Offices of Jacoby & Jacoby provide a free initial consultation. You can call any of our offices below to arrange it at your convenience. Our attorneys will explain the various forms of child custody, and answer any other questions you may have about divorce, an initial custody or visitation order, or a request to modify a custody or visitation order. You may also contact us online here.

    Medford, NY: 631-289-4600
    Miller Place, NY: 631-821-8800
    Shirley, NY: 631-281-2234
    Nassau County, NY: 888-452-2629

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