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Most people have heard the term “custody” as it relates to children and the law. The term “custody” involves two aspects related to children, legal custody and physical custody. When parents have a dispute regarding the visitation, control and care of children, it is handled in a child custody action. Child custody lawyers represent parents in these matters to seek resolution of disputes involving children.
Legal custody involves the decision making rights for children. I a person has sole legal custody, then that person is the only one who can make important decisions for a child. The decisions include medical, education, religious, and various child rearing choices. If two parties share joint legal custody of a children, then the two parties equally share the ability to make decisions for the child. In situations of joint legal custody, the parties must attempt to work together to make decisions for the child’s best interest.
Physical custody involves where the child lives. If a child lives exclusively with one party, then that person has sole physical custody. If a child spends time with both parents, it is referred to as joint physical custody. Joint physical custody does not necessarily mean that the child spends equal amounts of time with both parents. Rather, joint physical custody means that both parents have significant periods of time when the child is in their care.
If parents cannot reach an agreement about custody, a court may determine how to allocate custody. When a court determines custody, it considers a variety of different factors. Ultimately, the court attempts to allocate custody in a manner that serves the best interest of the child. Some of the factors that may be included in a custody determination include:
- The child’s wishes
- The character of the parents
- The stability of the parent’s home/life
- criminal histories
- Substance abuse issues
- Financial resources
- A child’s relationship with the parent
- A child’s ties to the community
A judge is given broad discretion in what they consider to determine custody.
A child custody attorney assists parents by providing legal advice and representation in a custody case. A child custody attorney will know how to comply with the court procedures. They will also be able to advise you about the applicable laws that may affect your case.
If you cannot reach a custody agreement, then a child custody attorney can argue your case to the court. An attorney will know what evidence to present to the court to support your position and will ensure that the other parent follows the applicable rules.
Child custody determinations may be modified in some instances when there has been a material change in circumstances. What constitutes a material change in circumstances depends on a variety of factors. A child custody attorney can assess your situation to see if you may qualify for modification. If there are sufficient facts to pursue modification, then a child custody attorney can guide you through the process and advocate for your requested change in custody.
Child custody disputes can be complicated, so it is important to have an attorney who is experienced in child custody legal matters. An attorney can draw upon their knowledge and experience to help you understand what is happening and what to expect.
If you have questions about child custody, are involved in a pending custody case, or wish to pursue modification of a custody judgment, then contact a child custody lawyer. An experienced NYC divorce lawyer can review your situation and provide you with legal assistance.