Child Custody in New York

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Parents who are divorcing have to deal with many legal matters, one of them being the custody of their children. Determining child custody can change the upbringing and future of a child’s life, therefore it is taken very seriously. While sometimes parents can come to a healthy agreement regarding custody, others have difficulty with it. In this case, a parent may wish to enlist legal representation for their case in order to protect their family. The state of New York offers different types of custody for parents to consider.

Physical Custody

One of the first things decided during a custody case is where the child will live. Physical custody, sometimes known as residential custody, determines the parent with whom a child spends the majority of their time. The parent who is awarded physical custody is in charge of the child’s residence, daily routine, and general care. Other terms for this parent may include “custodial” parent or “primary caretaker.”

Legal Custody

While only one parent is able to receive physical custody of their child, it is still important to fight for your own influence in your child’s life. This is what is known as legal custody. The concept of legal custody deals with a parent’s involvement in making decisions throughout the child’s life. This allows both parents to have a say in any major life choices. Such decisions may include medical care, religious practices, schooling, and the welfare of the child. In most cases, it is preferred that both parents have legal custody of their child. While sole legal custody is possible, it is a rare case. It may be awarded to one party if the other parent is deemed “unfit.” This may be the case if a parent could put the child in danger or does not have their best interest in mind. Even in cases such as these, that parent is still entitled to visits.

Factors Considered

While working through a custody arrangement, the judge always makes a decision based on the child’s best interest. There is a set of determining factors that are taken into consideration. Before coming to a decision, the judge may consider the following:

  • The child’s age
  • Which parent has been the primary caregiver
  • If a parent can provide stability (home, schools, activities, etc.)
  • The relationship between the child and each parent
  • Possible history of abuse (physical, alcohol, drug)
  • The child’s preference if they are of a certain age


In the state of New York, courts prefer that parents come to a civil agreement on child custody. Because of this, they may suggest mediation for the parents. Mediation is free, confidential, and voluntary. Having a mediator may assist parents in finding shared interests and beliefs when it comes to custody, ultimately reaching a common ground. This creates a space for both parents to participate in the process.


If you or a family member is going through a divorce and seeking legal counsel for custody arrangements, contact Peter V. Mandi & Associates, Inc. today.

Peter V. Mandi, Esq. is an experienced divorce and family law attorney located in Bohemia, New York. If you require strong and dedicated legal representation in Long Island, New York, contact Peter V. Mandi & Associates, Inc. today for a free consultation.

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