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Basic concepts at the heart of child custody issues

On Behalf of | Oct 22, 2020 | Child Custody

Families in New York who face child custody issues are understandably concerned about how, exactly, these issues might be resolved. After all, the vast majority of parents care deeply about how their children will be impacted by a divorce or, if the parents were never married, how the relationships between the two parents will develop. When it comes to child custody issues in New York, there are a few basic concepts to understand.

Basic child custody terms

For starters, it is important to understand the differences between “legal” custody and “physical” custody, which are the two main aspects of overall child custody arrangements. Legal custody refers to which parent – or both – gets to have input on the major decisions that will impact the child’s life, such as, for example, where the child will attend church or school, what type of medical care the child will receive and what type of extracurricular activities the child will participate in.

Physical custody refers to where, exactly, the child will live and spend time. One parent may be the primary parent to care for the child’s day-to-day needs and, as a result, the child may reside with that parent. A child could split time with the parents, alternating weekends and weeknights, for example. There are many different possible arrangements for physical custody.

However, in most cases, family law courts prefer to order “joint” custody when it comes to both legal and physical custody. This recognizes that both parents need to play an important part in the child’s life and, when possible, work together. Every child custody arrangement is different, so our readers in New York should be sure to get the right information about their own unique situation.