Understanding Your Rights: Joint Legal Custody

In a divorce involving children, parenting issues can stir a bitter custody battle. Our firm has litigated and won thousands of custody matters for our clients, and we know the importance of gaining, exercising and understanding parenting rights.

In New York, two fundamental types of custody must be agreed upon by parents or decided by the court before a divorce can be granted. Those custody types are:

  • Physical custody — How will residential care of any children be divided?  Physical custody refers to the provision of shelter and daily care and services for minor children.
  • Legal custody — Major legal decisions include those involving health, education and other serious parenting decisions. Legal custody gives you the right to participate in decisions that have a major impact on your children.

In most cases, New York courts prefer to award joint physical and legal custody. Unless there is a compelling reason not to award joint custody,  several types of joint physical and legal custody are possible.

With legal custody, most couples simply share the decision-making process as issues arise. For couples unable to work together, the court will sometimes grant decision-making authority to one parent for a certain issue such as education, while the other will retain authority for another issue, such as healthcare. In all cases, children benefit when parents work together on their behalf.

If you have joint legal custody and become aware that major decisions are being made outside your knowledge, you need to speak with your co-parent and then with an attorney. Despite joint legal custody, some parents willfully ignore the shared rights of the other parent. Such behavior could lead to correction by a judge through a contempt action or even eventual loss of legal custody for the noncompliant parent.

If you have concerns about your custody rights, Bryan L. Salamone and Associates, P.C, can help.

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