If you and your spouse have decided to dissolve your marriage, your children will be arguably the focal point of your divorce agreement. Deciding things like alimony and asset division are no doubt important, but figuring out the best custodial agreement is vital to the overall wellbeing of the family. One potential option for child custody in a divorce is joint custody. This does not necessarily mean that custody will be equal, but only that it will be shared to some degree. In other situations, one parent may retain full custody of their child while the other parent will be given visitation rights. Visitation is not to be confused with partial custody because there are unique responsibilities that parents have toward their children if they are the custodial guardian that a visiting parent will not have.
For example, only a legal and custodial parent will be able to make major decisions in the life of their child. A parent who has sole custody of their child will be the one that can decide what school their child goes to, what doctor they see and even what extracurricular activities they will participate in. If parents who have joint custody disagree about what their child should be involved in, this may or may not present a problem. For example, if one parent wants their child on a special diet and the other does not, each parent has the freedom to feed their child what they wish on the days that they have the children in their physical custody. For larger life decisions, the parents must come to an agreement.
Joint or shared custody can be further divided into joint legal custody and joint physical custody. As it sounds, joint physical custody means that both parents have their child living with them part of the time. They are physically present. With legal custody, this refers to the major life decisions such as the ones discussed above. In some cases, a parent can maintain sole physical custody while shared legal custody, meaning that their former spouse also has a say in the child’s life even though they do not have physical custody of the child. The decisions regarding custody do not have to be settled in court, but in many cases this might be necessary. Our firm is able to handle both uncontested (mediation) and contested divorce, which requires court.
The court will always make the decision that is in the best interests of the child. Determining what those “best interests” are is usually the most difficult part of arranging a divorce agreement. Some of the factors that the court will consider are listed below:
- What parent has consistently been the main caregiver for the child?
- What type of parenting skills does each parent possess?
- What is the child’s relationship with both parents and their families?
- To what degree are the parents able to cooperate with each other?
Of course there are many other considerations. For a more comprehensive list, visit the New York State Courts website or call Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. today.
If you are seeking legal representation for your divorce because you need a fair child custody agreement, come speak with a New York divorce and family law attorney at our firm. We have been trusted time and time again for our winning divorce strategies, and our lead attorney Brian D. Perskin has even written a book about it. To secure a consultation, call today!