What to Know About Child Custody in New York

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Determining child custody is one of the most difficult aspects of a divorce. As a result, it is important to understand how child custody is determined in New York. Read on to learn more about the process and the various options.

How does a New York judge determine custody?

It can be extremely difficult for parents to make a decision about custody. As a result, the decision is often left in the hands of a judge. When making a decision about custody, a judge will consider some of the following:

  • The parents’ ability to communicate, cooperate and agree regarding matters of the child
  • The parent’s willingness to accept custody and any unwillingness to allow parenting time
  • The relationship of the child with their parents and siblings
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • The safety of the child and the safety of one parent from another
  • The preference of the child when of sufficient age
  • The child’s needs
  • The stability of the home environment
  • The quality and continuity of the child’s education
  • The fitness of both parents
  • The geographical proximity of the parents’ homes
  • The parents’ employment responsibilities

What are the different types of custody in New York?

There are two main types of custody awarded in New York:

  • Physical custody: This is where the child will reside most of the time. This parent is also responsible for the child will provide a home, stability, food, clothes, etc. In certain cases, custody can be shared equally by both parents or guardians. Physical custody can be broken up into sole, joint, or shared.
  • Legal custody: When a parent has legal custody, they are able to make important decisions on behalf of the child’s life. These decisions can include academic, social, medical, religious, etc. One or both parents may have legal custody, and a parent does not have to have physical custody to have legal custody.

Why do parents lose custody?

In rare cases, a parent may lose custody. If a parent is deemed unfit, the fit parent will be awarded what is called sole custody. Some reasons a parent may lose custody include:

  • Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Refusal to co-parent
  • Substance abuse

This is not common. For the most part, New York courts believe a child benefits greatly from having a relationship with both parents. If a parent loses custody, she or he will likely have some form of visitation.

If you have any questions about child custody in New York, our firm is here to help. Reach out today to speak with an experienced 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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