Judges in New York often favor joint custody arrangements when possible in divorce cases. However, joint custody is not always the best option. In this blog from New York Family Law Group, we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of joint custody to help you determine if this arrangement might be right for you, your kids, and your ex-spouse. Before you make any decisions, it is important to speak with an experienced child custody lawyer. Call New York Family Law Group today at (718)-293-1542 to contact one of our family law attorneys.
Explaining Joint Legal Vs. Physical Custody
First, it’s important to distinguish joint legal custody from joint physical custody.
- Joint legal custody – This means that both parents share equal responsibilities for making decisions about childcare, schooling, religion, and other such life decisions.
- Joint physical custody – This refers to a child spending equal or nearly equal time residing with both parents – for example, spending 4 nights with one parent, and 3 nights with another.
Joint legal custody and joint physical custody are awarded separately. For example, it’s entirely possible for one spouse to have sole physical custody, but for both spouses to share joint legal custody.
The Advantages Of Joint Custody
Joint custody has some obvious benefits, which is why New York courts often seek joint custody arrangements between divorcing parents, when possible.
- Both parents maintain a role in the child’s upbringing – Both parents spend the same amount of time with their child, and in the case of joint legal custody, they make decisions about the child’s life together.
- The child enjoys a more stable environment – When it works out well, a joint custody arrangement provides a more stable, peaceful living environment for the child.
- Splits up responsibility more equally – Because both parents are sharing the responsibilities, work, and expenses of childcare equally, this makes things easier for both parties.
The Disadvantages Of Joint Custody
Joint custody has some drawbacks, too. Here are a few reasons that joint custody arrangements don’t always work out.
- Scheduling and planning can be difficult – When both parents share equal parenting time, a lot more coordination is necessary for transporting the child, planning pick-ups and drop-offs, and other such tasks. This can be very difficult for some parents, especially if they don’t get along.
- Arguments and conflicts often arise – If the parents have a contentious relationship, joint custody can actually make arguments and conflicts worse, since both parents have equal rights over the child. Kids also may be put in the middle of these arguments, which is not good for them.
- Kids have to move between homes frequently – Some children may have a hard time moving between two homes, since they may have to move personal possessions like school documents, sports gear, and other things each time they move between their parent’s homes.
Creating A Plan For Parenting Time
If you plan on seeking joint custody, one of the best things you can do is sit down with your spouse and work out a plan for parenting time. This plan will outline the time each spouse will spend with the child, who is responsible for transportation costs, how decisions will be made regarding the child, and other important information.
What Other Options Are There?
If you do not share joint custody of your children with your ex-spouse, one parent or the other will be awarded full legal and/or physical custody of the children, based on the determination of the court.
The specifics will vary depending on the court’s determination. However, the non-custodial parent will still have rights to see and parent their kids, usually including overnight visits.
How New York Courts Determine Custody
When determining legal and physical custody, the court might consider both the current arrangement and how it works. Additionally, they may take into account additional issues like each parent’s living situation, child’s wishes, ability to care for and support the child and provide emotional and intellectual support. They also look at each parent’s involvement in the child’s life to date and whether there have been any abuses. The court may also appoint an “Attorney of the Child” who will interview the child to determine what is best for them.
It is often difficult to amend agreements or judgments after legal and physical custody has been established. However, it is possible to modify such agreements or judgments if there are significant changes in the circumstances. Custody arrangements can have an impact on child support payments. The custodial parent may have the right to financial support to assist with child care. New York law establishes a formula that determines child support.
When Can A Child Decide With Which Parent He Or She Wants To Live?
Here are two things to remember about your child’s preferences:
The court does not set a specific age when it will begin to consider the child’s preferences. While the court will usually give more weight to the child’s preferences the older they become, there is no threshold or cut-off when the court will start considering a child’s preferences.
While the child’s preferences might be an important consideration in a court decision, they are only one of many factors that a NY court will consider to determine what is in the child’s best interest.
NY does not have a specific age where a child can decide which parent they will live with. The child’s preference is only one factor that courts in New York will take into consideration when determining custody. However, courts in New York can only decide on the custody of a child until they are 18 years old.
Need Help? Contact A Divorce Lawyer At New York Family Law Group
At New York Family Law Group, we specialize in helping parents come up with mutually agreeable solutions for child custody. Our goal is to put your children first and break the cycle of divorce.
So don’t wait. Contact us online to schedule an appointment, and get the assistance you need as you come up with a joint parenting plan.