Child Custody Basics
Few divorce decisions are as emotionally fraught as those involving custody of minor children. Divorcing spouses who agree on other issues can quickly reach an impasse where children are involved.
Too often, protracted custody battles are thinly disguised attempts to manipulate support obligations[H1] , deny equal parental rights, or alienate a child from a non-custodial parent.
While you and your spouse can make custody agreements and visitation arrangements on your own, litigated custody disputes turn those decisions over to a judge who does not know your family. As the largest family law firm on Long Island, our practice daily handles tough custody cases for clients from all walks of life. These parents retain us to fight for the best interests of their children—and for their future.
Two questions to be addressed concern legal and physical custody, defined as follows:
- Legal custody is the right to make or be involved in major decisions concerning your child on matters of health, education, and welfare
- Physical custody is the right for a child to reside with you and receive your physical care
Along with recommendations from the law guardian for your child, a judge will review best interest factors to make a physical custody decision that may look like one of the following:
- Sole custody with one custodial parent, and one parent receiving visitation rights
- Joint physical custody where a child resides with both parents—not necessarily for equal periods of time
Childhood is brief, but its scars can last a lifetime. If you have custody issues, retain a skilled attorney and fight for your child while you can still make a difference.