From trying to figure out who will keep the family home to who will have to pay spousal support, or if anyone will need to at all, divorce can be a stressful and complicated process in New York. However, a major source of acrimony during a marital split-up has to do with child custody. Two important considerations when determining who will have custody of the child is the type of arrangement that will be used and who will decide on it.

Understanding one’s options regarding various types of possible custody arrangements is paramount. For instance, perhaps the divorcing parents could choose joint legal custody, where they can both legally make decisions about how their child is reared and his or her welfare. However, if one parent feels that the other one is not capable of handling the responsibilities that come with parenting, he or she may seek sole child custody instead.

In terms of who decides on child custody, the parents may be able to reach an agreement outside of court through an alternative to divorce litigation such as mediation, collaborative divorce or negotiations. The benefit of these processes is that they can create a visitation and living schedule that is pleasing to both parties. For example, they may embrace a joint custody arrangement where the child splits time living with both parents, or they may agree for the child to mostly live with one party while the other party enjoys a generous schedule for visitation.

If the parents are incapable of negotiating a child custody agreement prior to going to trial, then their family’s custody decision will have to be made in the family law court. Unfortunately, a judge’s final decision is oftentimes not predictable and may end up being one that one or both parents would not have preferred. An attorney can help to ensure that one’s rights and best interests — in addition to the best interests of the child — are upheld when tackling child custody issues in New York.

Source: findlaw.com, “Child Custody Basics“, Accessed on Oct. 24, 2017