What is the difference between legal and physical custody?

On Behalf of | Apr 2, 2024 | Child Custody |

When parents decide to separate or get a divorce, figuring out who will take care of the kids becomes a big question. The different types of custody can be confusing for parents who are trying to make the best decisions for their children during a tough time.

Custody agreements are important because they decide how parents will look after their children after they split up. New York’s laws want to make sure that whatever decision gets made, it is the best one for the child. Knowing the difference between the types of custody helps parents make good choices for their children’s futures.

Physical custody

Physical custody refers to where the child lives most of the time. If a parent has sole physical custody, the child stays with them most days, and they take care of the child’s everyday needs.

However, New York courts prefer it when both parents can share physical custody. This means the child spends plenty of time living with each parent. Sharing time helps keep the child close to both parents, as long as it is good for the child.

Legal custody

Legal custody is about who gets to make big decisions for the child, like what school they go to, what doctor they see and what religion they follow. If one parent has sole legal custody, they make all these big decisions on their own. But often, New York courts want both parents to have joint legal custody. This means both parents have to talk and decide together about these big things in their child’s life.

Figuring out physical and legal custody can seem hard. Even though parents are going their separate ways, the main goal is to ensure their children have what they need to be happy and healthy. By understanding more about custody, parents can work together to ensure their children’s needs come first, helping everyone move forward in a positive way.


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