Going through a divorce can be stressful for the whole family. While parents struggle to negotiate the future, children feel tension about what will happen next.
Part of working out your child custody agreement is considering how your future will look as a family. Realistically, some plans and schedules become incredibly complex when there are two households instead of one.
Here’s what you should consider as you think about your child custody options.
Who gets to decide?
Part of the challenge with child custody is that parents and children all have opinions to share regarding child custody. While young children have very little impact on the decision, older children tend to have more influence on what will happen.
Additionally, parents both have input regarding child custody. Several years ago, it was common for mothers to be more likely to get sole custody, but that is no longer the case. Now, courts look at who has been the “primary caretaker” as well as other factors that would make sole or joint custody a better option.
Understanding terms: Sole, joint, legal and physical
The terms for child custody can feel confusing, especially when you have joint custody of your children, but your ex has legal custody. The following are a few of the key terms and what they mean in New York:
- Sole custody. One parent has custody of the children. While the other may have visitation privileges, responsibility for the children falls on the one who has sole custody.
- Legal custody. The person who makes final decisions regarding the children’s healthcare, schooling and other significant decisions. A parent has sole custody also has legal custody. When there is a joint custody arrangement, either parent or both could have legal custody. When both parents have legal custody, it means they need to agree on these important decisions.
- Joint custody. Parents share who cares for and spends time with the children.
- Physical custody. The parent the child lives with has physical custody.
Ultimately, during child custody negotiations, the goal is to find an agreement that fits both the children and the family as a whole. Like many other states, New York prioritizes the best interests of the child and will look to find an arrangement that fits their needs first.
Negotiation of child custody can be stressful and frustrating. It is important to talk to an experienced advocate who can help you support the best option for your children.