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How Does Child Custody Work?

How Does Child Custody Work?

When you decide to get a divorce, you and your spouse will no longer live in the same house, which makes it a bit more difficult to rear any children you have together.

In order to decide where your children will live and how they will be raised, you will need to determine child custody. The state of New York recognizes 2 forms of custody:

What Is Physical Custody?

Physical custody describes where your child will live and who is in charge of their physical care and supervision. Physical custody can be shared evenly, split by percentage, or awarded to one parent.

If you share custody, your child will spend an approximately equal amount of time in your home and the house of your ex-spouse. When you take on majority custody or sole custody, your former spouse may owe child support.

What Is Legal Custody?

Legal custody refers to decision-making on your child’s behalf. If you and your ex share legal custody, you will have to agree on important decisions. When you disagree with your spouse and cannot come to a fair conclusion, you may have to go back to court.

Occasionally, one parent will be given the right to finalize any disagreements, but you and your spouse will still have to discuss the decision first. Sometimes, one parent is awarded full legal custody. If you have full legal custody, you will not have to consult your former spouse for decisions regarding your child.

What Is Visitation?

When one parent has majority custody, or even full custody, the other parent may request visitation, which means “time spent with the child.” Depending on your situation, these visits may be short or supervised. Every now and then, though, it will mean your ex spends summers with your child or gets custody every other weekend. The terms “joint-custody” and “visitation” are usually used interchangeably, but they can mean different things depending on the circumstance.

For example, if your ex is a threat to your child and you have full custody, they may still request supervised “visitation.” In this situation, you are still the custodial parent. The term “joint-custody” would not be appropriate.

If your ex has partial custody of your child and sees them every other weekend, this is part of your custody agreement. The time may be referred to as visitation and be part of a visitation schedule or parenting plan, but it will not interrupt the shared custody arrangement you developed together. In this situation, “joint-custody time” could be used in place of visitation, and the phrasing would still be correct.

What Happens to Holidays?

If you and your ex decide to share custody in New York, you will have to develop a parenting plan. In this document, you will decide how to handle the weekdays, weekends, summer and winter breaks, and all holidays. Most parents prefer to alternate holidays. If you get custody during Christmas 2019, for instance, your former spouse will get Christmas 2020. You can decide which parent gets the “even years,” and who gets the “odd years,” or make another arrangement.

For significant Holidays, like Christmas, your attorney will advise you to include more details.

What If We Disagree?

Whether you and your spouse are able to agree or not, you should each retain divorce attorneys who are familiar with child custody.

At the Law Office of Robert H. Montefusco, our attorneys can help you develop a parenting plan with your spouse. If you agree with them, we may be able to finalize the document while staying out of the courtroom. If you do not, we are not afraid to take your divorce case to family court and let the law decide what is best for your child.

No matter your situation, we are here to help.

Get started today with a phone call to (631) 801-0007 today and a free initial consultation.

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