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Understanding legal and physical child custody in New York

For parents in Oneida County who are no longer together as a couple but share a child, child custody is crucial for decisions that are being made for the child, where the child will live and other issues. There are two different parts of custody that parents need to understand: legal custody and physical custody. Custody issues are usually only relevant until the child turns 18-years-old. The child's interests are the main focus when the court makes a decision. Without a court order, the parents will have equal rights to the child.

The parent who has legal custody will have the right to decide how best to care for the child. This includes medical treatment and religious observances. If there is joint legal custody, the parents will make decisions for the child in collaboration. The living arrangements are irrelevant in such a circumstance as both parents must agree on the decisions for the child.

If one parent is given sole legal custody, that parent will decide for the child. If a parent has physical custody - also referred to as residential custody - that parent will have the responsibility for the child's physical care and supervision. When there is joint physical custody, the child will reside with each parent for an equal period. With sole physical custody, the child will live with that parent more than half the time. This parent will be the custodial parent and the other parent - the non-custodial parent - will generally be granted visitation rights.

Caring for the child is paramount when the parents have parted ways. However, sometimes there will be a child custody dispute or a misunderstanding as to how child custody is handled between sole custody, joint custody and all the other options. Those who are concerned about the various kinds of custody that can be awarded and the best interests of the child may want to get more information about family law in New York.

Source: nycourts.gov, "Custody," accessed on March 20, 2017

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