A divorce can be a confrontational process as two New York residents work to end their marriage. One factor that can cause stress and conflict during the process is the resolution of child custody matters. Child custody refers to where and how a child is cared for when their parents end their legal relationship.

There are options for how child custody issues can be handled in different divorce situations, and it is important that readers understand that this post does not provide any legal advice. Readers should speak with their own divorce and family law representatives to fully recognize how their parental rights and responsibilities may be affected by the ends of their marriages.

Child custody is generally broken up into two varied categories: legal custody and physical (or residential) custody. Legal custody covers the right of a parent to make decisions about a child’s upbringing and care. Physical custody relates to the right of a parent to have their child reside in their home and under their care.

These forms of custody can be shared, experienced jointly, or given exclusively to one parent. If a parent is denied physical custody of their child then they may have the option to pursue visitation time with them. When a court must step in and make decisions about the future custody of a child, it will work to ensure that the child’s best interests are met.

Meeting a child’s best interests can be hard, especially because all children have different needs and requirements. Custody outcomes are therefore fitted to the children and families who will be bound to their terms. Some of the factors that courts can evaluate when making child custody decisions include, but are not limited to:

  • The physical and mental health of the parents;
  • The parents’ capacities to provide care to their child;
  • Incidents of domestic violence or child abuse in the family;
  • Child’s preferences (if they are old enough to have them; and
  • Other factors that may offer evidence of a child’s needs.

Not every child custody determination goes to court, however, and some parents may choose to work together to develop child custody plans that accommodate the parents’ desires and the children’s needs. Individuals and their family law attorneys can negotiate child custody agreements with the other parents to avoid the conflict of hearings on the subject. The possibility of successfully working out a child custody agreement out of court may depend on a number of factors, but when resolution of custody issues is not possible child custody decisions can be made by the courts. A knowledgeable family law attorney can help their client prepare for these and other difficult divorce-related occurrences.

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