Child custody disputes can be emotionally draining for all involved, no matter if the dispute is part of a divorce case or is between two people who were never married to begin with. Dealing with the emotions that come with these disputes is a significant part of moving toward a resolution. Focusing on the “nuts and bolts” of the legal issues can help.
So, what will the legal issues be in your child custody dispute? Well, if you are moving toward courtroom litigation or even mediation, the chances are that the parents in the case have been unable to agree on an arrangement to address “legal” custody and “physical” custody.
“Legal” and “physical” custody
“Legal” custody refers to which parent will be making the important decisions about the child’s life, such as where the child will go to school or receive medical care, or what religion the child will practice, for example. “Physical” custody refers to where the child will actually reside.
In reality, most judges in New York typically start from the premise that “joint” legal and physical custody is probably the arrangement that is in the best interests of the child. However, there are many factors that can slide that preference one way or another. If you are trying to make an argument that “sole” legal or physical custody is appropriate in your case, you’ll need to have facts to back up that claim and a persuasive advocate to argue your case. Addressing child custody issues can be challenging, but if you have a firm grasp of the basic legal concepts that are a part of these issues, you will probably be on solid footing from the start.