Child Custody in New York | What to Know

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The most sensitive matter of a divorce is often child custody. Parents feel strongly about their children and may have vastly differing opinions when it comes to what is best. As a result, custody can be an incredibly difficult decision to make. Some couples create a custody agreement on their own. Other couples must have the court make decisions regarding custody. Read on to learn more about child custody in New York and how it may be determined.

Different Types of Custody

The two main types of custody are physical and legal. Physical custody is awarded to the parent with whom the child will mainly reside. This parent is responsible for providing the child with a home, stability, meals, clothes, and other necessities. In some cases, a couple may decide to share physical custody equally.

Legal custody is not dependent upon physical custody. If a parent is awarded legal custody, he or she can legally make important decisions regarding the child. These decisions may include choices about academics, religion, and medical issues. Legal custody can be awarded to one or both parents.

New York courts believe a child benefits most from having some form of a relationship with both parents and will work to make that happen. In rare cases, if a parent is deemed unfit, the fit parent may be awarded sole custody of the child.

Mediation vs. Litigation

Sometimes, couples are in agreement when it comes to what is best for their children. In these cases, a couple may come up with a custody agreement on their own. Many couples turn to mediation. This involves a neutral third party helping the couple create an agreement that is the most beneficial to the child. But, even in the most amicable of divorces, couples may not be able to agree when it comes to custody. In these cases, the court will make decisions regarding custody.

How is Custody Determined?

If custody is determined by a New York court, the following factors will likely be taken into consideration:

  • Each party’s ability to provide financially for the child
  • The stability that each parent can provide
  • The ability of the parent to act in their child’s best interests
  • Each party’s relationship with the child
  • Each party’s history of domestic violence and substance/ alcohol abuse
  • Each party’s mental and physical health
  • Each party’s work schedule and lifestyle
  • The health and age of the child
  • The preference of the child, if of sufficient age

If you have any questions regarding child custody, reach out to a skilled family law attorney.


Peter V. Mandi, Esq. is an experienced divorce and family law attorney located in Bohemia, New York. Our firm understands the impact a divorce can have on your life. If you require strong and dedicated legal representation in Long Island, New York, please do not hesitate to contact Peter V. Mandi & Associates, Inc. today.

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