Sunday, September 10, 2017

Joint Legal and Physical Custody in New York

As owner of a law practice in White Plains, New York, Gordon Burrows focuses on family and matrimonial law matters. Gordon Burrows draws on diverse experience in handling custody cases, which often involve decisions regarding both joint and physical custody of minor children.

In the state of New York, legal custody refers to a parent's right to make decisions for a child, whereas physical custody determines where the child will live. Joint legal custody, then, means that both parents have the same authority to make significant decisions, including those related to the child's education and medical care. Since both parents' opinions carry the same legal weight, both must be in agreement for a decision to be valid.

Joint legal custody works best when the parents' relationship is stable enough to discuss the child's best interests calmly and amicably. If they cannot do so, neither has any ability to sway the other and decisions often stall before any final determination is possible. For this reason, courts rarely encourage joint legal custody for embattled divorces.

Joint physical custody is less common in the New York court system, primarily because it requires an equal division of parenting time. Because this can be difficult for a number of logistical and personal reasons, courts often name one parent as the custodial or residential parent. If parenting time is split relatively evenly, however, the situation may be one that parallels joint physical custody, though the term itself may not be a part of the parenting plan.