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Custody Determinations in New York

In New York, custody is broadly categorized into two main types: legal custody and residential custody.


Legal Custody: Legal custody refers to the authority to make major decisions regarding a child's upbringing, including matters related to education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. Parents may share joint legal custody, where they both have input into these decisions, or one parent may be granted sole legal custody.


Residential Custody: Residential custody, on the other hand, pertains to where the child primarily resides. Similar to legal custody, residential custody can be joint (shared between both parents) or sole (where the child primarily resides with one parent).


Factors Considered in Custody Determination


When determining custody arrangements, New York courts prioritize the best interests of the child above all else. To assess what arrangement would serve the child's best interests, courts consider various factors, including:


-          Child's Wishes: Depending on the child's age and maturity, their preferences may be taken into account, although this is just one of many factors considered.


-          Parental Stability and Fitness: Courts assess each parent's physical and mental health, stability, and ability to provide for the child's needs.


-          Relationship with Each Parent: The strength and quality of the child's relationship with each parent are critical factors. Courts typically favor arrangements that promote ongoing and meaningful contact with both parents, unless circumstances such as abuse or neglect dictate otherwise.


-          Home Environment: The suitability of each parent's home environment, including living conditions, proximity to the child's school and community, and the presence of supportive family members, may influence custody decisions.


-          Work Schedule and Availability: Courts consider each parent's work schedule, availability, and willingness to facilitate the child's relationship with the other parent.


-          History of Caregiving: The extent to which each parent has historically been involved in the child's care and upbringing is also taken into account.


-          Any History of Abuse or Neglect: Allegations or evidence of abuse or neglect, whether directed towards the child or the other parent, can significantly impact custody determinations.

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